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The Temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia

 Posted by , June 27, 2008 at 12:48:39 :: Cambodia

To date, Unesco's 1972 Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage protects 851 properties of outstanding universal value, including 660 cultural, 166 natural and 25 mixed properties in 141 State Parties.

The sacred sanctuary of Preah Vihear Temple (ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ), built for the Hindu god Shiva in the first half of the 11th Century AD during the reign of King Su ryavarman, is on the list for consideration for new sites by the World Heritage Committee (WHC) during their annual meeting in July in the Canadian city of Quebec.

Prasat Preah Vihear (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ - Thai: ปราสาทเขาพระวิหาร), Khmer temple located in the Dângrêk Mountains (Thai: ทิวเขาพนมดงรัก) in Cambodia (ព្រះរាជាណាចក្រកម្ពុជា) and on the border of Sisaket Province ((Thai: ศรีสะเกษ)) in north-eastern Thailand

The property is situated on a promontory of the Dangrek Range (Dângrêk Mountains - Thai: ทิวเขาพนมดงรัก), 547m above the Cambodian Plain, known as Phnom Preah Vihear (Sacred Hermitage Mountain), on the modern border with Thailand.

The Temple of Preah Vihear is a unique architectural ensemble made up of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an axis 800m long.

This ensemble testifies to the Khmer genius for domesticating vast territories and adapting to the landscape. The property offers the visitor a magnificent landscape embracing nearly 360 of the plain below, a landscape opening out in front of the hermits' grottoes in the cliffs.

Like many Cambodian monuments, this sanctuary consists of a succession of courtyards on a common axis (though the north-south axis here is somewhat unusual).

Preah Vihear temple or Preah Vihear (ប្រាសាទព្រះវិហារ - Prasat Preah Vihear), Dângrêk Mountains in Cambodia. Prasat Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia and is located in Preah Vihear Province (ខេត្តព្រះវិហារ). most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryavarman II (1113–1150).

The only access at present is by means of a steep, recently constructed track through the forest from a village, which houses soldiers and their families, as well as some Buddhist monks living at a pagoda, which also serves as a school.

From here two paths lead to the temple, one passing through a village (Pjum Prasat) comprised of Cambodians wholly dedicated to shops and other facilities for visitors. Some 550 people live here. The presence of this Cambodian community has been protested by the Thai government on the grounds that it sits inside Thai territory.

The other path comes through Thailand's Si Sa Ket province (Sisaket province - Thai: ศรีสะเกษ) by means of a monumental stairway with 159 steps, leading to a 25m long pavement flanked by enormous rampant na gas (snakes).

The sanctuary is enclosed by two groups of galleries laid out in cloister form, foreshadowing the cruciform cloisters of Angkor Wat. The central enclosure is accessible only by the three passages coming from Gopura No.1 and two small openings to east and west. The southern side is closed by Gopura No. 1 and the northern side by a structure which is in effect a false gate. Instead of opening out on the vast spaces of the Cambodian plain, it presents a blank face. The layout thus presents an increasingly closed aspect, until at the end all that is visible is the sky.
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