Prasat Kravan, Srah Srang and Banteay Kdei

12 Feb 2014

This is the first day of our visit to Angkor Archaeological Park.  What did we start with?  Certainly the purchase of the ‘Angkor Pass’.   Options are: 1 day ($20), 3 days ($40) and 7 days ($60).  We went for 7-day.  Then we were arranged to take a photo.  Just very quick, we’ve got our passes with the photo.  Efficient!  It came with a strap to wear round the neck.  It must be shown at all times.

Our first site visit point: Prasat Kravan.  It is a temple with five brick sanctuaries built in 10th century devoted to Vishnu.  They are unusually arranged in one N-S row, facing E and all on the same platform. Today only the central and S have a superstructure, consists of receding tiers, each diminishing in height and proportion to enhance the impression of scale. The temple was restored in the 1960s based on what remained at that time.

The outlook of the sanctuaries is not impressive.   But they contain very fine interior brick bas-reliefs.  They are the only known examples of their type in Khmer art. Figures were carved into the brick.

Srah Srang is a baray located south of the East Baray and east of Banteay Kdei.  It was dug in the mid-10th century and remodelled in late 12th century.  It is now a sandstone terrace over the water.  It offers a beautiful and tranquil view.  Srah Srang is a popular site for viewing the sunrise.  We passed by there one evening and had a beautiful sunset.

Banteay Kdei is a smaller version of Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. It is a Buddhist temple built in late 12 to early 13 century.  Probably, it was built over the site of an earlier temple dated from 10 century. 

Banteay Kdei means ‘A Citadel of Chambers’.  Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries.  My very strong impression is: apsaras all over the place.

Certainly, there are other figures, e.g. guardians.


Preak Ko (Prah Ko) - Ruluos, Siem Reap

13 Feb 2014

The morning was dedicated to temples at Roluos.  We started the tour with Preah Ko - the sacred bull.  It was build in late 9th century by King Indravarman I.  It is dedicated to Siva and is a funerary temple built for the king's parents, maternal grandparents, King Jayavarman II and his wife.

The complex of Preah Ko is surrounded by four walls but in ruined state.  At the central part are six brick towers in two rows, standing on a low platform.  The three in the front row are for maternal ancestors with male guardian flanking the doorways.  The three on the back are for maternal ancestors and flanked by female divinities.
The back row of towers is curiously unevenly spaced with the right-hand one closer to the center tower than left-hand one. It has been suggested the two closer towers signify two ancestors love each other during their life.

Beautiful lintels are present.  Look around and appreciate the beauty and fine craftsmanship.  Lions are guarding in front.  Again, with fine quality.   Opposite in the complex sit three kneeling bulls -
Shiva's Nandi.  They gave the temple the modern name of The Sacred Bull.
Lintel on SE sanctuary
Lions guarding the entrance to the 6 towers
3 Sacred Bulls facing the steps guarded by lions


Bakong - Roluos, Siem Reap

13 Feb 2014

Bakong is located in Roluos.  We went there from Preah Ko. It was built in late ninth century by king Indravarman I dedicated to Siva in the art style of Preah Ko.  Bakong was the center of the town of Hariharalaya, a name derived from the god Hari-Hara which was a synthesis of Shiva and Visnu.   The temple represents Mount Meru.

Bakong was built in a shape of stepped pyramid or temple mountain.   It has 5 levels leading to the Central Sanctuary of mythical beings (Nagas, Garudas, Raksasas and Yaksas).  It was treated as the state temple for Angkor for only a few years.  Yasovarman I moved the capital to Angkor and a new temple mountain Bakheng was built. But Bakong was not abandoned as additions from the 12th and 13th century were made.  The splendid design such as large stone statues of elephants at the corners of the three lower levels of the pyramid and lion statues guarding the stairways suggest the complex must be important and beautifully constructed.  But the more delicate art deteriorated with the time goes by. 

Photos here are in order from far to close, from ground ascending to the top.  A scene of the lake surrounding it is shown at the end. 



Lolei - Roluos, Siem Reap

13 Feb 2014

Lolei is a Buddist temple in the area of Roluos. It originally formed an island in the middle of Baray but now dry. It is very close to Preah Ko and Bakong.  Compared to the other two temples, Lolei is rather small and damaged.  At time of visit the main tower was under restoration.  One next to it was rather deteriorated.  The state suggests that it collapsed previously. Nevertheless, remains of some beautiful lintels and sculptures can be seen. Some notes on the Khmer architecture:

It is the sky-god reignd supreme in the religion of Vedas. But it only served as a decorative motif at the period of medieval Hinduism of Angkor. Indra is associated with the east.  As Angkorian temples typically open to the East, his image is included in lintels and pediments facing east.  Typically, he mounted on the three-headed elephant Airavata.

Kala is a ferocious monster associated with the destructure side of Shiva. It appears as a monstrous head with a large upper jaw lined by large carnivorous teeth but no lower jaw.  Sometimes it is shown as vine-like plants.  It is a common decorative element on lintels and walls.

Click here if you are interested in the terms for Khmer architecture.

Indra on Airavata

a divinity over a kala head

Male and Female Guardians
Nowadays the area of Lolei is dominated by a monastery.  You can observe the humble daily life of the Khmers.