Angkor Pyramid Temple – Pre Rup – Siem Reap

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Angkor Pyramid Temple

Pre Rup is a pyramid temple, quite a different temple to the others we have looked at over the past few days. Three of the sanctuary temples appear directly ahead, however restoration of the Gopura was in progress, so we had to move around the construction. The rich red color of the laterite stone used on this pyramid makes a  strong contrast to the grey  of Ta Prohm and Angkor Wat. Love the tufts of grass sprouting  from the top of the temples. Reminds me of a cartoon character, just can’t remember which one?

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Pre Rup temple is a square pyramid built with three tiers rising 12 meters above the level of the ground. All those steps look very challenging! At the lower level of the pyramid stand 12 small shrines arranged evenly around the pyramid square.  Halfway up the steps are two small shrines on either side of the 2nd tier. Lions guard either side of the staircase. The top-tier has five sanctuary towers, the central tower larger than the others. The towers sit one in each corner of the square pyramid and one in the center. The steps to the top are quite steep, at ground level there are some large steps to contend with, so take care.

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The name of the temple – Pre Rup means ‘turning the body’ – this is a cremation rite. There is a stone cistern east of the pyramid that has given rise to the belief that Pre Rup may have had a dual purpose as a funerary temple for the King’s ashes or a cremation ceremony, as well as being King Rajendravarman’s State Temple. King Rajendravarman reigned between the years 944 to 968.

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Foundation Stele

The foundation stele of Pre Rup was found near a small square structure in the north-east corner of the pyramid temple. The Stele is no longer at the temple, now stored in the Conservation Office. The stele has the longest Sanskrit inscription (298 verses) known in ancient Cambodia. It is considered a masterpiece of classical Sanskrit poetry called Kavya. Interestingly this inscription also mentions King Rajendravarman’s architect of the time, Kavindrari-mathana.

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Pyramid Temple

This is the only pyramid style temple we saw, so for this reason if no other, felt compelled to do the ‘climb’.There are others built in this pyramid style with towers from earlier periods  in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Pre Rup is considered a temple mountain, the five towers representing the five mountain peaks of the sacred mountain, Mount Meru, considered the center of the universe in Hindu mythology. Bakong the State temple of Indravarman I, consecrated in 881-late 9th century, is considered the first significant temple-mountain. Bakong is a five tiered pyramid temple.

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The pyramid temple enclosed by a platform and bounded by  red-laterite walls. Like most other temples at Angkor, other buildings built by different kings at a later date lie within the walls.  I think one has to feel a bit privileged to be able to sit on the steps, among the lichen and moss, of an ancient Khmer Temple and ponder upon the life, and religious life style of  Khmer Kings and their subjects.

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