When you think about historical and religious attractions in Cambodia you most likely will think of the Temples of Angkor which is by far the one of the most famous and visited attractions in the whole of Southeast Asia. However On July 8, 2008, the World Heritage Committee added another World Heritage Site list in Cambodia – The Preah Vihear Temple.
It is an ancient Hindu temple located on the the border between Cambodia and Thailand that was built during the period of the Khmer Empire in the Preah Vihear province of Cambodia. It is situated at the top of Pey Tadi with a 2,000 foot high escarpment overlooking the Cambodian plains far below in the Dangrek Mountain range and can be seen from a long distance from both Thailand and Cambodia.
Because of its location so close to both Thailand and Cambodia there has been, both countries have had disputes over ownership of the temple. However, after many lengthy and still on going debates it is officially recognised in Cambodia. In Thailand the temple is in the village of Bhumsrol village in the Sisaket Province of eastern Thailand and in Cambodia as being in the village of Svay Chrum Village in the Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia and only 140 km from Angkor Wat.
The construction of the temple started in the 9th century and was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva but then with the rise of Buddhism and decline of Hinduism the temple was converted to the Buddhist temple as it is known today. The site is spread over around 800m and the style of the temple today is recognised as the Banteay Srei style of the late 10th century. Most of the temple was built during the time of reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II.
The temple has four levels and four courtyards which comprise of five Gopuras. This group of building was the King’s residence and the two wings were the shelters for the pilgrims. The main temple are used for the high-ranking supreme divinities, this mighty group of building is considered as the center of the whole temple complex.
The Nagaraj Courtyard has stairs heads that are in the form of seven-headed snakes called Ngu Suang, which are very interesting to see and there is also a pavilion in Greek architecture style and stone lions that adourn some of the roofs doorway. Overall the temple is as awe-inspiring and interesting to see as Angkor Wat and the great thing is that it is not as overrun by tourists as Angkor Wat. As of 2015 the temple can only be viewed from Cambodia, mainly due to the ongoing border disputes between the 2 countries.
AsiaTrips offer exclusive private guide tours to the Preah Vihear Temple. For more details visit www.asiatrips.travel.