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Angkor, Pre Rup | by Arian Zwegers
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Angkor, Pre Rup

Angkor, Pre Rup

 

Angkor was the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which was also recognized as Yasodharapura and flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor was a megacity supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010–1220. The city houses the magnificent Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia's most popular tourist attractions.

 

The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara, meaning "city". The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a "universal monarch" and "god-king", and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351. A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.

 

The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap city, in Siem Reap Province. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together, they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Visitors approach two million annually, and the entire expanse, including Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom is collectively protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The popularity of the site among tourists presents multiple challenges to the preservation of the ruins.

 

In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that Angkor had been the largest pre-industrial city in the world, with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres to the well-known temples at its core. Angkor is considered to be a "hydraulic city" because it had a complicated water management network, which was used for systematically stabilizing, storing, and dispersing water throughout the area. This network is believed to have been used for irrigation in order to offset the unpredictable monsoon season and to also support the increasing population. Although the size of its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people.

 

 

Pre Rup is a Hindu temple at Angkor, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction.

 

The temple’s name is a comparatively modern one meaning "turn the body". This reflects the common belief among Cambodians that funerals were conducted at the temple, with the ashes of the body being ritually rotated in different directions as the service progressed.

 

Located just south of the East Baray, or eastern reservoir, Pre Rup is aligned on a north-south axis with the East Mebon temple, which is located on what was an artificial island in the baray. Pre Rup's extensive laterite and brick give it a pleasing reddish tone that is heightened by early morning and late afternoon sunlight. The temple has a square lay-out and two perimeter walls. The outer enclosure is a platform bounded by a laterite wall, 117 meters N-S by 127 meters E-W. A laterite causeway gives entry from the east. The four external gopuras are cross-shaped, having a central brick section (consisting of three rooms flanked by two independent passageways) and a sandstone vestibule on both sides. To either side inside the eastern gate is a group of three towers aligned north to south. Further ahead, through another gate, libraries lie to either side of the walkway on the second platform.

 

The final squared pyramid, measuring 50 m at its base, rises in three steep tiers a dozen metres in height to a 35 m square platform at the summit. The lowest tier is symmetrically surrounded by 12 small shrines. At the top, five towers are arranged in a quincunx, one at each corner of the square and one in the center. Deities carved as bas-reliefs stand guard at either side of the central tower’s eastern door; its other doors are false doors. The southwest tower once contained a statue of Lakshmi, the northwest tower a statue of Uma, the southeast tower a statue of Vishnu and the northeast tower a statue of Shiva. The last one has an inscription on doorjambs that dates from Jayavarman VI and is the only proof of his reign at Angkor.

 

Pre Rup was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

 

(sources: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pre_Rup)

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Taken on January 21, 2008