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Angkor Temples 8

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October, 2004

Banteay Samre 12th Century Angkor Wat Style Suryavarman II
Angkor photo.
Banteay Samre

Banteay Samre was built of laterite and sandstone in the Angor Wat style. No inscription has been found to date it precisely. This temple was restored using the anastylosis method. It is unique in having two rings of interior moats paved with laterite (see the photo at left). If you can imagine the green grass as blue water, you get some small idea of the visual effect it must have had. Many of the sandstone carvings at this temple are still in very good condition, although many of them were stolen over the years. There is a linga at the center of central tower of the temple.

This temple has great examples of the beautiful symmetry and design details that went into all of these structures. There are two walkways around the larger, exterior moat. The outer walkway was covered and completely enclosed by laterite walls; from this walkway one could see the moat through balustered windows. The inner walkway is open to the moat with sandstone pillars that supported a wooden roof, and precisely framed the balustered windows in the laterite walls of the outer walkway. You can still see the pockets cut into the laterite to support the roof beams for the inner walkway.

Here are some more photos of Banteay Samre:


Ta Prohm 12th Century ••• Bayon Style Jayarvarman VII
Angkor photo.
Ta Prohm

"Ta Prohm's state of ruin is a state of beauty which is investigated with delight and left with regret. But one can always come again. And one always does."

— Helen Churchill Candee, 1925

Ta Prohm was built as a Buddhist monastic complex and was dedicated to the king's mother. It has been left largely untouched by the archaeologists. They have cleared some paths through the temple, and have shored up and strengthened some structures to prevent further damage. Still, much of the temple has a feeling of impending collapse (see the photo at left). The jungle has been cut back to some extent, but large trees still dominate, and damage, much of the temple.

Ta Prohm must have been an important and impressive monument. It is hard to imagine the size and elegance of this now ruined temple. Stone inscriptions tell us that the temple owned over 3,000 villages. It took almost 80,000 people to maintain and operate it. An inventory of the temple's property once included:

1 set of gold dishes that weighed 1,100 pounds
35 diamonds40,620 pearls4,540 precious stones
876 veils from China512 silk beds523 parasols

Ta Prohm is a monastic complex — a series of buildings on one level, unlike the many temple mountains at Angkor. The buildings are connected with passages and concentric galleries which surround the central sanctuary. Because of the many collapsed walls and roof arches, it is impossible to walk through much of the temple. The many trees shadow the entire complex, and the interiors of the standing buildings are dark and forbidding. Still, this is one of the most fascinating of the Angkor temples.

Here are ten more photos of Ta Prohm:

gopura  | band  | causeway  | entrance  | gallery  | wall
carvings  | pillars  | galleries  | arch


Banteay Kdei 12th Century •• Bayon Style Jayarvarman VII
Angkor photo.
Banteay Kdei

"In the ruin and confusion of Banteay Kdei the carvings take one's interest. They are piquant, exquisite, not too frequent ... they seem meant ... to make adorable a human habitation."

— Helen Churchill Candee, 1925

Banteay Kdei was built as a Buddhist monastic complex. Although it is smaller than Ta Prohm, and no inscription stone has been found, it was obviously an important temple. (see the photo at left). Today, it is in fairly poor condition. Most of the damage is the result of faulty construction and the use or poor quality sandstone, which has a tendency to crumble. The quality of sandstone varies from temple to temple, probably due to the exhaustion of the quarries that provided the better stone.

Banteay Kdei was less over-run with vegetation than many other temples. It was occupied by monks over the centuries who maintained it and prevented the encroachment of the jungle. Interestingly, the temple was inaccessible during the 1960's when it was home to a herd of "dangerous wild deer."

Here are some photos of Banteay Kdei, including a panoramic view from within the temple:

doors  | hall  | walkway  | monk  | apsara  | carvings

Cambodia panorama.


Neak Pean 12th Century •• Bayon Style Jayarvarman VII
Angkor photo.
Neak Pean

"On an artificial island in the centre, was the little temple ... now known as Neak Pean, one of the most unique and beautiful designs of all Khmer architecture. A little temple, only four metres square, with four lotus stories and a little crown. This little gem of a sanctuary rose out of a sacred lotus, which seemed to float on the surface of the basin."

— Lawrence Palmer Briggs, 1951

Neak Pean was built into the center of the last baray (reservoir) built by the Khmer. Access was by boat across the baray to a collection of eight ponds in the shape of a lotus. In the center of the central pond was a small island temple (see the photo at left). Today, the baray and the largest ponds are dry and covered with jungle. Only the center pond and four of its surrounding ponds have a little water in them.

Neak Pean was built to represent Lake Anavatapta, situated at the top of the universe, and feeding the worlds four great rivers. The central pond discharges water into four adjacent ponds through carved stone gargoyles, representing the four great rivers. At the time of our visit, water levels were low, and the gargoyles were dry. Within the central pond, facing the island temple, is a sandstone statue which represents the horse Balaha.


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