My amazing world

Monday, July 03, 2006

The Hindu - On the plains of Cambodia

Picture: ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE ( A World Heritage Site )

It is an incredible sight to see the temples on the plains of Cambodia. These 100 or so temples were built when Hindu kings reigned over a period of time from the 9th to 13th century. These magnificent temples were constructed out of stones, which were reserved for the gods while the people dwelt in houses made of wood and mud.

Of great beauty

Some of the bas-reliefs depicted on the temple walls show various Hindu mythological legends such as the samudramanathana which was supposed to bring out the nectar of eternal life by churning the ocean using vasuki, the serpent king. On one side were the devatas and the other side the asuras.

The most important temple complex is near the town of Siem Reap. The Angkor Wat, built in the 12th century A.D., has been declared a World Heritage Site. The visitor is struck by the grand design of the temple with its five soaring towers and intricate terraces on whose walls bas-relief depicts legends, warriors, battle scenes and ordinary Khmer life.

The temple was built during the reign of Suryavaraman II and was dedicated to Lord Vishnu whose idol adorned the sanctum. However, with the advent of Buddhism, the idol of Buddha replaced Vishnu. The temple was meant as a funerary temple though no royal was buried within its precinct.

Another important temple in this region is The Bayon built during the reign of Jayavaraman VII, Kher's greatest builder, which is a Buddhist complex with the giant faces of Avalaokiteswara adorning the temple towers to scare away would be intruders. The Bapuhon is a small but magnificent temple whose pyramidal structure represents Mount Meru of Hindu mythology. Ta Prohm is a complex temple structure, which has been kept as it was discovered with many huge cottonwood trees taking root right in the temple posing a serious danger to the structure.

King Jayavarman VII dedicated the temple to the royal mother. In the height of its glory, it has been recorded that 20,000 men were required to maintain the temple.

A study of these ancient Hindu/Buddhist temples gives the visitor first hand information about the architectural skills of the ancient Khmers.

Moreover, the bas-relief shows the life of Khmers during the period 9th and 13the century A.D. These people have left an indelible footprint on the architectural wonders of the world.

(Excerpts are drwn


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