Temple of Preah Vihear
On the border of Thailand and Cambodia and 220 kms approximately to the south eastern part of Surin, the Preah Vihear Temple and its Khmer ruins are located. It is believed that the temple was constructed over a period of three hundred years and the work began in the 9th century. It served as a major destination of the Hindu priests as the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva, the Hindu god. Among all the temples that were constructed during the six-century ruling period of Khmer empire, Preah Vihear has got the best setting. Different types of architectural styles can be noticed in the temple, which is because of the modifications made by the successive kings of Khmer empire. The name of the temple is derived from the Preah Vihear province of Cambodia and the Khao Phra Wihan National Park that borders the temple in the Sisaket province of Thailand. This factor, however, has given a rise of dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over the ownership. In the year of 1962, the International Court of Justice in The Hague granted the ownership to Cambodia. The temple is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site as it was listed on July 7, 2008.
The temple of Preah Vihear or Prasat Preah Vihear is based atop 1,720 feet height cliff in the Dangrek mountain range. It is now officially a part of Cambodia and it is located in its Preah Vihear province. If we consider its location near Thailand, the temple is close to the border of Sisaket province’s Kantharalak district.
It was in the ninth century, when the construction work of the first temple started in the location. During that time and also in the forthcoming centuries, the temple was devoted to Hindu god Lord Shiva in his different avatars such as Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara, the mountain gods. The initial existing portions of the temple, however, show the evidence of 10th century Koh Ker period. Presently, the architectural style from the late 10th century’s Banteay Srei is evident in the temple. However, the maximum portion of the Preah Vihear’s construction was made during the kingdom of the Suryavarman I (1002 -1050) and Suryavarman II (1113 -1150) who were the Khmer kings.
In the temple, certain evidence was found, which proves that Suryavarman II studied holy customs, celebrated religious events and offered various gifts to his spiritual guide Brahman Divakarapandita. His gifts included elephants, golden bowls, white parasols, etc. Brahman Divakarapandita also contributed towards this temple as he offered a statue of Lord Shiva made of gold to the temple. But, the area gradually gave away Hinduism with the rise Buddhists and the site got converted as a Buddhist site.
How to access
The tourists can access the temple of Preah Vihear from both Thailand and Cambodia.
From Cambodia- At the Dang Rek mountain, stairway takes to the top at the site of the temple. The location can be access via Svay Chrum. The moutain top can also be reached by the Road C1, which was developed by Khmer Rouge.
From Thailand- International visitors can easily access the temple from Thailand.
This is the sanctuary corridor