Baksei Chamkrong

March 1, 2009

in Angkor Temples

Temple Name: Baksei Chamkrong
Notable Features: Unique inscriptions around the tower entrance.
Getting There: Baksei Chamkrong is located on the left, near the South Gate of Angkor Thom. Its classical pyramid shape is difficult to miss. Furthermore, most tuk tuk drivers and tour guides know about Baksei Chamkrong.

The Pyramid of Shiva

Baksei Chamkrong is located between Angkor Wat and the South Gate of Angkor Thom. King Harshavarman I began work on Baksei Chamkrong I the middle of the 12th century. Construction was completed by his successor, King Rajendravarman II, in the same century.

Baksei Chamkrong is a 12-meter tall step pyramid, made of 4 concentric layers. The lowest level is a 27-meter by 27-meter square. A single, east-facing prasat (tower) sits atop the pyramid. Inscriptions can be seen on the prasat’s entrance. The inscriptions praise early Khmer kings, primarily Jayavarman II.

Baksei Chamkrong was built using brick and laterite (clay). It is one of the only Angkorian temples constructed almost exclusively out of these materials. Most other temples in Angkor are made of sandstone. Impressively, even though brick and laterite are not as durable as sandstone, Baksei Chamkrong is very well preserved.

Originally, Baksei Chamkrong housed a golden image of the Hindu deity Shiva. This suggests that the temple was some sort of Hindu religious shrine. The precise function of the temple, however, has evaded historians. Archeological theory proposes that the temple was used in funeral ceremonies.

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