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In the 6th century , king Yasovarmamn I ( 889-900) began work on the original dedicated to Shisa as result of spiritual development, increased political prestige and economic growth was naturally reflected in the Temple undergoing more than 300 years of consultation with deal of remodeling under subsequent King Suryavarman II ( 1113 -1150) this increased prestige naturally changed the original small sanctuary into one of the greatest Khmer temples of all times. This ranking was the result of the finest in situ carving that depicted the highest standards of unique Khmer architecture.
Under the Franco-Siamese Treaty of 1904 and 1907, the line of frontier between Cambodia and Thai along the Dongrak Mountains followed justice at the Hague officially found that the Preah Vihear Temple situated inside the Cambodia territory.
The World Heritage Committee, meeting for its 32nd session, finished inscribing the Temple of Preah Vihear sites on UNESCO?s World Heritage List on 8 July with the addition of 19 cultural sites and eight natural sites to the List.
History of Preah Vihear Temple
Construction of the first temple on the site began in the early 9th century; both then and in the following centuries it was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva in his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. The earliest surviving parts of the temple, however, date from the Koh Ker period in the early 10th century, when the empire’s capital was at the city of that name. Today, elements of the Banteay Srei style of the late 10th century can be seen, but most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryavarman II (1113–1150). An inscription found at the temple provides a detailed account of Suryavarman II studying sacred rituals, celebrating religious festivals and making gifts, including white parasols, golden bowls and elephants, to his spiritual advisor, the aged Brahmin Divakarapandita. The Brahmin himself took an interest in the temple, according to the inscription, donating to it a golden statue of a dancing Shiva known as “Nataraja”. In the wake of the decline of Hinduism in the region the site was converted to use by Buddhists.
Preah Vihear Location
Preah Vihear Temple is located in a pleasant environment with an attractive countryside slightly east of the mid section of the Dongrek Mountains.It is perched on the edge of a giant cliff, about 625 meters above sea level in Preah Vihear Province, Northern part of Cambodia, 625km from the capital city of Phnom Penh. It is also situated close to the Cambodia-Thai border. The temple has four levels and four courtyards which comprise of five Gopuras ( entrance pavilions some times surmounted by tower )
Palace Building or Gopuras on the third level: This group of building was the King’s residence when he came to pay homage to the mighty God , and the two wings were the shelters for the pilgrims. The main temple are used for the high-ranking supreme divinities, this mighty group of building is considered as the center of the whole temple complex.
The front stone stairway : this main passage is on the North side. The stairway is 8 meters wide and 78 meters long,. The fist flight has 162 steps. At the first landing is a large stone singa statue on stone block. Another 54 flight of steps 4 meters wide and 27 meters long leads up to the second landing also decorated with stone signa statue.
The Nagaraj Courtyard : this stone-paved is 7 meters wide by 31.8 meters long. From here the stairway leads up to the first-level Gropura. The Stairheads are in the form of seven-headed snakes called “Ngu Suang ” facing North towards the Prasat. The heads and tails of nagas on both sides look like ordinary snakes, characterizing and early example of this type of animal figures. The head portion of the naga on the west side looks very impressive because it is made from a single solid stone. The first level Gopura : this is a pavilion in Greek architecture style with cross plan on an elevated, rebates angle base on each of the roof doorway . Stone lions are placed on each of the roofs dooeway.
The temple can be reached by crossing the Cambodia-Thai gateway border from the Ubon Ratchantani Province of Thailand. Currently the visits are from 8.00 till 16.00 hours. For all the grandeur of its site, perched on the edge of a giant cliff and with a commanding view over northern Cambodia, Preah Vihear is difficult to visualize as a whole. The experience is truly a memorable one the series of ascents over the best part of a kilometer, the ornate Gopuras and the wealth of decorative detail truly staggers one’s imagination.
Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage Site
On July 8, 2008, the World Heritage Committee decided to add Prasat Preah Vihear, along with 26 other sites, to the World Heritage Site list, despite several protests from Thailand, since the map implied Cambodian ownership of disputed land next to the temple.
As the process of Heritage-listing began, Cambodia announced its intention to apply for World Heritage inscription by UNESCO. Thailand protested that it should be a joint-effort and UNESCO deferred debate at its 2007 meeting.
Following this, both Cambodia and Thailand were in full agreement that Preah Vihear Temple had “Outstanding Universal Value” and should be inscribed on the World Heritage List as soon as possible. The two nations agreed that Cambodia should propose the site for formal inscription on the World Heritage List at the 32nd session of the World Heritage Committee in 2008 with the active support of Thailand. This led to a redrawing of the map of the area for proposed inscription, leaving only the temple and its immediate environs.
However, Thailand’s political opposition launched an attack on this revised plan (see Modern History and Ownership Dispute), claiming the inclusion of Preah Vihear could nevertheless “consume” the overlapping disputed area near the temple. In response to the political pressure at home, the Thai government withdrew its formal support for the listing of Preah Vihear Temple as a World Heritage site.
Cambodia continued with the application for World Heritage status and, despite official Thai protests, on July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear Temple was inscribed on the list of World Heritage sites.