Sunday, April 12, 2009
Name : Wat Phou (Vat Phu)
Location : It is a ruined Khmer Hindu temple complex in southern Laos. It is located at the base of mount Phu Kao, some 6 km from the Mekong river in Champasak province.
There was a temple on the site as early as the 5th century, but the surviving structures date from the 11th to 13th centuries. The temple has a unique structure, in which the elements lead to a shrine where a linga was bathed in water from a mountain spring. The site later became a centre of Theravada Buddhist worship, which it remains today.
The mountain gained spiritual importance from the linga-shaped protuberance on its summit; the mountain itself was therefore considered the home of Shiva, and the river as representing the ocean or the Ganges River. The temple was naturally dedicated to Shiva, while the water from the spring which emerges directly behind the temple was considered sacred.
Wat Phou was a part of the Khmer empire, centred on Angkor to the southwest, at least as early as the reign of Yashovarman I in the early 10th century. Shrestapura was superseded by a new city in the Angkorian period, located directly south of the temple. In the later period, the original buildings were replaced, re-using some of the stone blocks; the temple now seen was built primarily during the Koh Ker and Baphuon periods of the 11th century.
The next terrace has a small shrine to Nandin (Shiva's mount) to the south, in poor condition. The road connecting Wat Phou to Angkor ran south from this temple. Continuing west, successive staircases lead up further terraces; between them stands a dvarapala which has come to be worshipped as king Kammatha, mythical builder of the temple. On the narrow next terrace are the remains of six small shrines destroyed by treasure-hunters.
The east side has three doorways: from south to north, their pediments show Krishna defeating the naga Kaliya; Indra riding Airavata; and Vishnu riding Garuda. The east wall bears dvarapalas and devatas. Entrances to the south and north bear have inner and outer lintels, including one to the south of Krishna ripping Kamsa apart.