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Freitag, 22. April 2011

Part 7 - Preah Vihear No Man's Land

The Dawn of the Khmer Empire

We all know about Alexander the Great, Caesar, Dschingis Khan, Napoleon and Hitler. They all share a certain amount of atrocities more or less but have one thing in common, their hunger for territory.

A friend of feathers must have been born in the heart of the Khmer lands during the 8th century AD. As so often in history, a man educated in the house of the then most powerful Kingdom of South-East-Asia, which was Java, suddenly develops a hunger for independence and uses the skills acquired from the masters to achieve his personal goals. In the case of Cambodia it was a man named Jayavarnam II. He united the so called “Water Chenlas” and became the King of Kambujadesa. His coronation year in 802 AD is the official birth year of the Khmer-Nation, the state of Camdodia today. He became King with Lord Shiva as his Avatar. That’s more than 400 years before Siam was founded and generations before Ankor Wat came to life.
The rumor says that he already convinced the “Land Chenlas” to join his movement of independence and that he was the one who layed down the corner stone of Preah Vihear at the edge of the Dangrek escarpment.
The historical evidence is weak. It might even be wishful thinking. But it shows how much tribute the Khmer people pay to this place. One thing seems to be pretty sure. Preah Vihear is older than Ankor Wat.

It is important to understand in this context that these kind of complexes were not built in one shot. They grew over the centuries. What we see today in ruins is the result of the final touches in the 13th century. In the beginning there was no stone stair cases at the entrance, no buildings on the way up to the holy place at the edge of the Dangrek escarpment. All what there was is a place of worship for Shiva. Most probably a lingam only, located inside a small building of stone, carved out of the rock close by. Scientists claim that the oldest structures are on the topmost southern end of the Preah Vihear temple, close to the escarpment. Up there are many traces of ancient rock carving activities.         

Cautionary Remark: Whoever intends to visit Preah Vihear / Khao Pra Wihan should ask for advice beforehand. As of now, April 2011, the place is closed for visitors. Thai and Cambodian troops face each other in close proximity. Renewed battles could emerge at any time.   

stay tuned... 

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