East Mebon

March 1, 2009

in Angkor Temples

Temple Name: East Mebon
Notable Features: Elephant statues carved out of a single block of stone.
Getting There: East Mebon is located approximately 1.3 km from Pre Rup, and about 300 meters from the left turn to Banteay Samre.

Heaven’s Temple

East Mebon is large island temple located in the now dry East Baray. King Rajendravarman II constructed East Mebon in the second half of the 10th century in honor fo the Hindu deity Shiva.

From inscriptions located throughout East Mebon, archeologists have inferred that the temple was constructed in an attempt to solidify the Khmer kingship in Angkor. Prior to the reign of Rajendravarman, the Khmer Empire underwent a period of upheaval. During that period the capital was moved from Angkor to Koh Ker under the leadership of the usurper Jayavarman IV.

Today, the baray around East Mebon is dry scrubland. From atop the temples terrace it is difficult to imagine what East Mebon once looked like. The Eastern Baray is a gargantuan man-made water reservoir. In its time, the Eastern Baray would’ve appeared more like a small sea than an artificial lake.

East Mebon consists of five prasats (towers) that were erected in quincunx formation. A quincunx is a temple design in which five towers are assembled in an “X” pattern. East Mebon’s prasats sit atop a mammoth step pyramid, made of three concentric tiers. Massive stone elephants guard the temple’s entrance. The elephants were carved from a single block of sandstone.

East Mebon was designed to symbolize the location of the Hindu heaven, mount Meru. Visitors at East Mebon are overcome by a deep sense of the Khmer people’s devotion to the principles of Hinduism and Buddhism.

Many of the carvings and inscriptions throughout East Mebon are in excellent condition. Every Angkor temple itinerary should include a visit to East Mebon.

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