Banteay Chhmar Temple
Banteay Chhmar relatively modern means “The Citadel Of The Cat” and the real name of this temple is not known. It is a royal Buddhist monastic complex which was built by the king Jayavarman VII but the precise date of its opening construction or consecration is missing. Banteay Chhmar was dedicated to his dead son named Virakoma and his four military officers who gave their life to help rescue the crown prince Indravarman II in the battle repelling the Chams. Banteay Chhmar is a little known and rarely visited site situated at the base of Dangrek mountains and one of the Buddhist temples has never been renovated by the later Hindu king Jayavarman VII. Even Banteay Chhmar is located too far from the capital city of Angkor, it is vast and comparable in size to other large monastic complexes such as Preah Khan and the walled city of Angkor Thom but today, it is a confused mass of fallen walls, collapsed galleries and broken stone blocks – all entwined with jungle. The temple was encircled by 3 enclosures and moats btw 2 of the walls. The outer 2000m N to S x 2500m E to W, the second 200m x 250m, the first 120m x 130m. During king Jayavarman VII’s rule, even he is a Mahayana Buddhist fervent but tolerated the people who believed in Hinduism so inside some Buddhist temple complexes, such as Preah Khan, Banteay Chhmar, he built the shrine for the Hindu gods, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.
This temple, according to Mr. Georges Croslier, took about 20,000 workers btw 27 and 30 years to complete it. The temple made an international news in 1998 through an organized looting in which 118 pieces of sandstone carvings were taken away from the galleried wall of the temple. They were transported across the Thai border but Thai police intercepted the truck and eventually the stolen pieces were returned to Cambodia and now in PP national museum. Noted Mr. Christopher Pym is the first visitor who came to see this temple in1956.
RELIEFS ON THE GALLERIED WALLS:
– East Wall, South Side: an action-packed battle scene on the Tonle Sap btw the Khmers and the Chams.
– South Wall, East and West Sides: the historical scene of the battle in 1177 AD when the Chams made a surprise attack on Angkor. Noted at west side near the gopura, the heads of 2 decapitated men show the fierceness of the battle.
– West Wall, South Side: a series of 8 standing multi-armed cosmic Lokesvaras With a single head, a rare form of the Bodhisatva in Khmer art. His typical attributes are: a book, prayer beads, a flask of nectar, a small Buddha seated in meditation appears in the cylindrical headdress of the figure, praying figures, celestial being, tropical foliage and lotus surrounds the central figure. ● north side: the churning of the ocean of milk; a gigantic mythical beast Rahu appears twice, he fights with a warrior and on the lower tier he devours a oxen-cart.
– North Wall, East Side: a grand and long parade of royal ladies in palanquins on the shoulders of bearers, a row of devotees carrying offerings. To see the central area, we need to climb over the stones, in and out the doorways and galleries. The shape is a rectangular complex of 120m x 40m. It consisted of 9 towers