Historical information on the temples of Angkor Park originates from various sources, including writings, epigraphs, iconography, archaeology, ethnology, and language. And is only partially documented, in turn leaving us with an incomplete picture of a past which today is mainly corroborated by historical events, of which the most reliable evidence is to be found in it monuments. Based on that evidences, it is possible to trace Cambodia’s history from the first mention by the Chinese in the 1st century of the Funan Kingdom, up to the rise and fall of Chenla form the 6th to the 8th century, all the way through the glorious reign of the Khmer from the 9th to the 13th century, and to the subsequent decline of that splendid civilization in the 15th. The story of Angkor leaves us with a felling of humility and admiration as we wonder at he creative genius and artistic flair of the that highly gifted and culturally advanced civilization.

Angkorian Period (9th - 15th century)

802AD: The beginning

Jayavarman II was the first king of the Angkorian era, through his origins are recorded in history that borders on legend. He is reputed to have been a Khmer prince, returned to Cambodia around 790 AD after a lengthy, perhaps forced stay in the royal court in java. Regardless of his origin, he was a warrior who, upon returning to Cambodia, subdued enough of the competing Khmer states to declare a sovereign and unified Kambuja under a single ruler. He made this declaration in 802 AD in ceremony on Kulen Mountain (Phnom Kulen) north of Siem Reap, where he held a ‘god king’ rite that solidified his ‘universal kingship’ through the establishment of a royal linga-worshiping cult. The linga-cult would remain central to Angkorian kingship, religion, art and architecture for centuries to come.

(River with 1000 Linga, Phnom Kulen)

Roluos: The first capital

After 802AD, Jayavarman II continued to pacify rebellious areas and enlarge his kingdom. Before 802AD, he had briefly based himself at pre-Angkorian settlement near the modern town of Roluos (13Km southeast of Siem Reap), which he named Hariharalaya in honor of the combined gods of Shiva and Vishnu. He reigned from Hariharalaya until his death in 850AD. Thirthy years after jayavarman II’s death, king Indravarman I constructed the temple of Preah Ko, the first major of Roluos Group, in honor of Jayavarman II. He then constructed Bakong , which was the first grand project to follow the temple-mountain architectural formula. When visiting these temple, note the deep, rich, detailed artistic style in the carvings that were characteristic of the period.

Indravarman III also built the first large Baray (water reservoir), thereby establishing two more defining marks of Angkorian kingship - In additional to the linga-cult, the construction of the temple monuments and grand water projects became part of kingly tradition.

Bakong - In the Rolous Group which served as the early Khmer capital before the mover to Angkor

The move to Angkor

Indravarman III’s son, king Yasovarman I, carried on the tradition of his father, building the East Baray as well as the last major temple of the Roluos Group (Lolie), and the first majortemple in the Angkor area (Phnom Bakheng). Upon completing Phnom Bakhengin 893AD, he moved his capital to the newly named Yasothearapura in the Angkor era. The move may have been sparked by
Phnom Bakheng - The first monument to be built at Angkor upon moving the capital from Roulous
Yasovarman I’s violent confrontation with brothr for the throne, which left the Royal Palace at Roluos in ashes. With one exception, the capital would reside in the Angkor erea for the next 500 years.

Koh Ker : A brief Interruption

The exception took place in 928AD when, for reasons that remain unclear, there was a disruption in the royal succession. King Jayavarman VI moved the capital 100 Km north of Angkor to Koh Ker, where it remained for 20 years. When the capital returned to Angkor, it centered not at Phnom Bakheng as it had before, but further east at the new state temple of Pre Rup (961AD).

Apogee: The Khmer Empire at Angkor

The great temples of the Angkor era were built by his successors to house their royal lingas, the phallic emblems of the Hindu god Shiva. The kings of Angkor ruled over much of the South East Asian mainland until the early 15th century. Their capital was the centre of a network of reservoirs and canals that controlled the supply of water for rice-farming and enabled the people to produce a surplus of wealth to finance wars and monumental construction. One king, Jayavarman VII, built hospitals and rest houses during the 12th and early 13th centuries along the roads that crisscrossed his kingdom.
Angkor wat - One of the larger monument built on earth
Under Suryavarman II in the early of 12th century, the empire was at its political/territorial apex. Appropriate to the greatness of the times, SuryavarmanII produced Angkor most spectacular architectural creation, Angkor Wat, as well as other monuments such as Thomanon, Banteay Samre and Beng Melea. Angkor Wat was constructed as Suryavarman II's state temple and perhaps as his funerary temple.

In 1177 the usurper was killed in one of the worst defeat suffered by Chams. Champa launched a sneak attack on Angkor by entering along Tonle Sap Lake just south of the capital city. The south wall bas-relief on Bayon displays a naval battle, but it is unclear whether it is a depiction of the battle of 1177 or some other battle.

Jayavarman VII: The great monument buider

The cham controlled Angkor for four years until the legendary Khmer King Jayavarman VII mounted a series of counter attacks over a period of several years. He drover the cham from Cambodia in 1181 . After the Cham defeated, Jayavarman VII was declared king and started his religion Mahayana Buddhism the state religion, and immediately began Angkor's most prolific period of monument building.

Angkor Thom - (great city) One of the last capital of Angkor.

1 comment:

Seat Vacations said...

wow..hear about Angkor Wat directly from the tour guide :). Keep sharing!!