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Preah Vihear Temple

Preah Vihear Temple is located in Svay Chhrum village, Kantuot commune, Choam Ksan district, about 108 kilometers north of Preah Vihear provincial town, Tbiang Meanchey. Phreah Vihear province was created in 1964 by cutting the land from Stung Treng, Kampong Thom and Siem Reap provinces. The province is at the north of Cambodia, on the plateau that is rich in forest, mountains and streams.

Preah Vihear temple, which is 800meters long and 400meters wide, sits atop the 625meter high Phnom Preah Vihear in the Dangrek Mountain range on the border of Thailand. The Cambodia side of the mountain is very steep, while the Thai side is gently rolling. There are three ways to reach Preah Vihear temple:

  • From Cambodia by ancient road Svay Chhrum. There is staircase to the mountaintop.
  • From Cambodia by Kor I road, which has been re-constructed with concrete. Most local people and sellers go up the mountain by this road.
  • From Thailand, the route most popular with foreign visitors. Foreigners can also get to the temple from the Cambodia side, but the route is very difficult.

Preah Vihear temple is a cultural and historical site. The French handed over the temple to Thailand in 1954. It was returned to Cambodia on June 15 1962, in a decision rendered by the International court.

The temple was originally known as Sreisikharesvara, which means the power of the mountain. The temple was built over 300years in the late 9th and early 12th centuries to worship Shiva Brahmanism by for Kings:

  1. King Suryavarman I (AD 889 – 900 or 910) The King built the central tower of Preah Vihear temple. King Yosovarman I built Yasodharapura city and preferred to build the temple on a natural mountaintop.
  2. King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050) The king built a long hall next to the central tower, the rampart and three gopuras. According to the temple inscription, the king prepared a ceremony to invite the god patresvara who stay at Wat Pu (now in Lao) to stay together with the god Sreisikharesvara to protect and take care of the Khmer Empire and its people.
  3. King Jayavarman VI (AD 1080 – 1109) The king built two libraries and repaired some parts of the temple.
  4. King Suryavarman II (AD1113-1150) The king bult a terrace with seven-head-nagas, status of standing lions the working path and some more naga straicases. He also prepared the inauguration ceremony for the temple and regarded it as a worship place for all kings.

There are many Brahmanism stories sculpted on the fronton of Preah Vihear temple. Two of those stories are very meaningful. One is the story of Victory of Krishna over Bana the Demon King. This story represents the victory to get fresh water from Yumnea River. Another story is about the Churning of Ocean of Milk.

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