West Mebon

March 1, 2009

in Angkor Temples

Temple Name: West Mebon
Notable Features: Built on a man-made island. Unique Animal Carvings.
Getting There: Take Route #6 (Airport Road) west from Siem Reap. Turn right approximately 3 km past the airport turnoff. To reach the ruins, you will need to take a boat from the south dike of the West Baray (the largest man-made water reservoir at Angkor).

Explore the Ruins of an Ancient Man-Made Island

West Mebon is a small temple located on a man-made island in the West Baray, which is the largest of the man-made Angkorian lakes. The stonework and stylistic appointments of West Mebon indicate a construction date sometime in the 11th Century, but the exact date remains unclear.

The ruins of West Mebon are in ragged condition, but contain some very unique examples of Khmer animal imagery. Unlike most Khmer artwork and hieroglyphs (which may be one in the same), the carvings at West Mebon depict animals in a natural, non-mythological setting.

It is believed that King Udayadityavarman ordered the construction of West Mebon to honor the Hindu deity Vishnu. Originally, the temple was a square, fort-like monument. Within its four walls there used to be a pond, 100 square meters in size. From within the pond there stood a sandstone platform. Today, a single wall is the only outstanding remnant of King Udayadityavarman’s work.

Because of West Mebon’s poor shape and inconvenient location, it is not a popular tourist destination. But if you have the time and are hungry for a little adventure, this peculiar little island is well worth the boat ride.

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