Cambodia

Temples of Angkor – Phimeanakas

Directly opposite the Baphuon in the Angkor Thom complex, Phimeanakas is a three tired Hindu state temple originally built during the reign of Rajendravarman, sometime between 941 and 968 A.D. Suryavarman I made later alterations, turning the temple into the focal point of his capital.

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The same Chinese envoy that described the Baphuon as “tower of bronze” at the end of the 13th century, described Phimeanakas as the “tower of gold”. He then went on to record that the santuary was said to be home to a spirit that took the form of a serpent by day and a beautiful lady after dark. The king was meant to visit her every night before seeing his wife, or else disaster would follow.

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The setting for this temple is wonderful, with lush jungle snapping at the heels of the temple. The ground underfoot is noticeably uneven, lumps and bumps are everywhere, a tale tale sign to any amateur archaeologist that this might be evidence of former occupation.

And that is precisely the case, for the area around Phimeanakas in Angkor Thom was the site of Jayavarman VII’s royal palace. Strangely for all the masonry temples surrounding you, the royal palace was constructed of wood and so has not survived. All that remains is the echo of the foundations, and some rather suspicious larger holes which my guide said where as a result of looters looking for treasure back in the days of the Khmer Rouge.

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Beyond Phimeanakas is a large enclosure containing a couple of pretty man made ponds, and the path continues through the north gate and on towards the next temple worth visiting, Preah Khan.

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