Sunday, April 12, 2009

Prasat Preah Vihear

Name : Prasat Preah Vihear

Location : It is a Khmer temple situated atop a 525-meter cliff in Dângrêk ranges, Cambodia, just across the border from Thailand.

Affording a view for many kilometres across a plain, it has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the Empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Special : Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north-south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the East.

The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is located. The Sacred Site of the Temple of Preah Vihear was built in the 9th -12th centuries by successive Khmer kings.

Construction of the first temple on the site began in the early 9th century; it was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. The earliest surviving parts of the temple, however, date from the Koh Ker period in the early 10th century, when the empire's capital was at the city of that name. Today, elements of the Bantey Srei style of the late 10th century can be seen, but most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryvarman II (1113–1150). An inscription found at the temple provides a detailed account of Suryavarman II studying sacred rituals, celebrating religious festivals and making gifts, including white parasols, golden bowls and elephants, to his spiritual advisor, the aged Brahman Divakarapandita.

The Brahman himself took an interest in the temple, according to the inscription, gifting it with a golden statue of a dancing Shiva. The construction of Preah Vihear went on continuously from the 9th to the 12th century. The first construction of Preah Vihear is credited Yasovarman I, who reigned from 889 to 910, but ''a son of Jayavarman II (who reigned from 802 to 850) may have founded Preah Vihear even earlier when he took a fragment of rock from the Lingaparvata Mountain of Wat Phu in Laos to the site of Preah Vihear '' (ROVEDA, 2000:10). (Wat Phu = Vat Phou).

No inscriptions inform about the year of construction. The first stone-construction was probably done in the last part of the 9th century, but the north-south orientated layout of the temple could well have been in use in older structures made by lighter materials.

Religion: Saivite (Bhadresvara version) Preah Vihear was a Hindu temple dedicated Shiva in his aspect of Shikharesvara (Lord of the Summit) and a Bhadresvara linga was installed in the main shrine. Prasat Banteay Srey, Prasat Sek Ta Tuy, Prasat Trapang Khyang from the 10th century were all dedicated to the linga Tribhuvanamahesvara, which is the name of the god of Lingapura

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