Prasat Kravan – Vishnu Temple in Angkor, Cambodia
Prasat Kravan is worth a visit if you have taken the 3 day ticket to visit Angkor Temples Siem Reap. But including this in your itinerary of 1 day tour may take up some of the limited time. However I leave it to your judgement after reading this post and seeing the pics.
Prasat Kravan – Brief History
In 927AD Mahidharavarman constructed this set of temples. He was a high official in the court of King Harshavarman I. One can see several inscriptions mentioning this in the 2nd, 3rd and 5th tower of this set of temples. Mahidharavarman dedicated the central tower to Hindu God Lord Vishnu. This form of Lord Vishnu was known by the name Trailokyanatha.
While King Harshavarman was ruling in Angkor, his uncle established a rival capital in Koh Kher. His uncle established another temple Prasat Thom, dedicated to Lord Shiva in Koh Kher. Lord Shiva in Prasat Thom was called Tribhuvaneshwara. Both temples were built simultaneously. Names of people who worked in these temples are inscribed in the walls. The fine brick works here are the only known examples of their kind in Angkor area.
Prasat Kravan translates to Temple Cardamom (creeper of sweet smelling flower). The temple derived this name after the tree that stood there once.
Architecture of Prasat Kravan
This set of temples is very unimpressive from its exteriors but the neat manner they stood charmed me as we crossed it in full speed. We requested the tuk tuk driver to halt and take a U turn back to the temple. “Nobody goes there ma’am” was his reply. Prasat Kravan hardly has any crowd and that gives a full opportunity to take the tour at leisure.
The 5 temples stand on a lateritic platform, only the central tower has its ceiling intact. A French team helped restore this temple completely in 1960s. Some new bricks marked with initials CA (conservation Angkor) were used. No mortar was used in construction; instead a vegetable compound was used by the locals then. It is impressive to note that whatever remains are still standing strong for 10 centuries.
The door frames have inscriptions. Sadly so much of these have worn off. The steps leading to the temple are very narrow and tourists hold on the frames during their movement. Unless care is taken the inscriptions will disappear fast. The lintels have got some touch up and have some impressive figures. Most noteworthy are the designs on the octagonal columns.
Bas Reliefs in the Interiors of Prasat Kravan
All the five temples are arranged in a single row, facing east. Of these only the northernmost tower and central tower has elaborate work in the interiors. The other 3 sanctuaries have bare interiors.
This temple is dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi consort of Lord Vishnu. She has devotees seated at her feet praying to her. The right wall too has an image of her. However in the left wall most part of her image is missing only her feet remains.
Lord Vishnu is depicted here in 3 different positions. In the left wall Lord Vishnu is seated on Garuda his vaahan(vehicle), holding 4 attributes – Earth, conch, sudarshan chakra (discus) and baton. Most impressive is the central wall. He is shown standing flanked on all sides by figures of devotees. The right wall has Lord Vishnu in Vaman avatar. (Lord Vishnu takes 3 steps to span the universe and to ensure the Gods of possession of whole world.)
Travel Tips to Prasat Kravan
- Visit this temple in the morning. The rising sun rays illuminate the interiors magically and good photography is possible.
- Tour time is half an hour.
- This is a must visit in 3 day tours and 7 day tours of Angkor Temples.
More pictures of Prasat Kravan in Angkor