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Bengmealea Temple

Bengmealea Temple

Basic Facts about Bengmealea Temple

·         Hindu Temple

·         Construction Style similar to Angkor Wat

·         Main material – sandstone

·         Built in the 12th century

·         By the order of king Suryavarman II

·         One of the Khmer’s Empire largest temples    

Bengmealea Overview

The name of the temple Bengmealea literally means "lotus pond" (translated from the Khmer language). This building is located near the famous Angkor Wat temple complex, and in many ways it resembles its style of architecture. And the distance between these sanctuaries is only 40 km away, because Bengmealea is located on the ancient road that leads to the Preah Khan. Bengmealea was one of the most important religious centers of Cambodia and is thus considered as one of the largest temples of the Khmer Empire. It was built on an area of 108 hectares.

Bengmealea Temple

Bengmealea Construction Facts

Bengmealea was created as a Hindu temple, but in its outer decor one can see some Buddhist motifs. Material for its construction was a sandstone. However, at the moment the building is in a dilapidated condition. In the middle of its large courtyards and towers grow trees and thick shrubs, rocks are scattered randomly or are lying in the large heaps. Unfortunately, to some extent the destruction of this place was not because of time only, but also because of the fanatical religious vandalism. Such deplorable condition of the temple was also impacted by the inaccessibility, as it was quite hard to restore the temple even in the modern times. Though the toll road to the temple of Koh Ker was recently built, which also runs near Bengmealea. So now the temple is attended by quite a large number of tourists. 

Bengmealea Temple – the Inner Picture

Since Bengmealea architectural style is very similar to the style of Angkor Wat, the scientists suggest that it was also built during the reign of the Khmer King Suryavarman II, namely, in the XII century. And though this temple is smaller that Ankgor Wat, it is also considered as one of the major monuments of the Khmer Empire. The size of the outer galleries of Bengmealea Temple are 181 × 152 meters. The arches of the galleries are supported with walls and a number of pillars. The temple was the center of the city, surrounded by a deep moat with a width of 45 m. The nature of this structure is very clear and it had a precise plan to have the temple built in the absolute harmony of its parts and thus create great monumentality of the finished structure. In ancient times, the temple walls were covered with beautiful carvings, but the rain and time have left no trace of them.  

The construction faces the east, but still has entrances from three sides. The temple consists of 3 enclosing galleries that are located around the sanctuary, but the latter is now almost completely destroyed. Fences are connected by covered arcades. The temple is decorated with various carved ornaments that depict the scenes from Hindu myths and "Ramayana". For example, you can see the birth of Vishnu by the goddess of Garuda. Also in the temple there are amazingly beautiful balustrades in the shape of the snake bodies. In one of the buildings of the temple were found guttering systems, which may indicate that in the temple were held ritual ablutions.

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