Prasat Banteay Chhmar

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Prasat Banteay Chhmar
Native Nameប្រាសាទបន្ទាយឆ្មារ
BA#C0107001
CISARK#51
IK#816
K InscriptionK.226, K.227, K.592, K.696, K.827, K.828, K.1061, K.1062
Inscr. LocationIn situ
SizeLarge
ConditionRuin
TypeTemple
Location
Part ofPrasat Banteay Chhmar
VillageBanteay Chhmar
CommuneBanteay Chhmar
DistrictThma Puok
ProvinceBanteay Meanchey
CountryCambodia
Coordinates14.07082, 103.10011
History
FoundedLate 12th - Early 13th Century
BuilderDharanindravarman II, Jayavarman VII, Indravarman II
Art StyleBayon
MaterialSandstone
ReligionBuddhist
DeityLokeshvara
Year/s RestoredOn-going
UNESCO Proposed2020
UNESCO Tentative2020



51 Banteay Chhmar 5.jpg
5.00
(2 votes)


Site Size & Condition: Large Ruin Prasat Banteay Chhmar (ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយឆ្មារ - Pronounced: Pra-saht Bon-teay Ch'mar)

A huge, partially ruined, later-period temple site situated in northwestern Cambodia, not far from today's border with Thailand. The sprawling sandstone construction is one of the country's largest and most spectacular sites featuring some superb reliefs and of course, multiple towers with the iconic faces.

Considering the enormous number of sites generally ascribed to Jayavarman VII's reign it is inconceivable that everyone was started and finished during that monarch's watch. Therefore, like many other temples, this Mahayana Buddhist complex appears to have been constructed in stages. Several scholars suggest a relatively modest, original site - consisting of what later became the central shrine - may have been inaugurated by his father Dharanindravarman II before being upgraded and extended during the late 12th, early 13th-century period. Many later additions - including the iconic towers - seem to be later again and were perhaps added by his son Indravarman II. (A logical, though at present unconfirmed, sequence.)

Later additions may have been the various satellite temples and mebon temple in the baray to the east. Intra-mural, axial sites include; Prasat Ta Naem to the west, Prasat Yeay Kom to the north, Prasat Ta Im east and Prasat Ta Phlang and Prasat Ta Prohm (Banteay Chhmar) on the south side. An additional shrine, Prasat Yeay Chou has a curious position to the southeast. All of these sites are of a very similar design and several incorporate 'face towers'. Additional, associated temples, lying outside this outer enclosure are; Prasat Samnang Ta Sok on the west side, Prasat Ta Phai on the north and the aforementioned mebon temple Prasat Mebon (Banteay Chhmar) to the east. This entire area was then enclosed by an additional wall forming what must have been a huge temple city complex. (Note also that the large - 4 square kilometre - site of Prasat Banteay Toap also lies just a short distance south.)

The main temple area - possessing a slightly north of east-west alignment - is surrounded by a moat featuring 4 naga causeways in an Angkor Thom style. Beyond this, a poorly constructed laterite dharmasala lies just north of the main, eastern entrance with corresponding foundations to the south perhaps representing an identical structure or even arogyasala?

The main, inner area, is surrounded by a sandstone gallery originally featuring no less than 1,200 metres of reliefs including battle and everyday scenes as well as those of a religious and mythical nature. Banteay Chhmar has been notoriously affected by looting (due to its remote position) and many have been stolen while others recuperated and moved to more secure homes. (The 32-armed Lokeshavara images (there were originally 8) on the southern section of the west wall are probably the most famous.) Due to the ruinous condition, this central area is today extremely confusing although recent efforts have been made to cut back vegetation and create walkways to access sections of the site that formerly required near mountaineering skills to reach.

While possessing a different disposition the central area contains many similar features to Prasat Preah Khan (Siem Reap) and Prasat Ta Prohm (Siem Reap) and the first area past the eastern gopura is the de-riguer Hall of Dancers. Beyond, an inner enclosure wall houses the main shrine area. Large annex shrines north and south feature cruciform towers with surrounding galleries although curiously lie half and half out of the enclosure.

As mentioned then, a confusing, complex but truly spectacular site and one that, with its remote location, sees a fraction of the visitor numbers of most other sites of this size and importance.


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