Prasat Kravan

March 1, 2009

in Angkor Temples

Temple Name: Prasat Kravan
Notable Features: Remarkable bas-reliefs. Peculiar architectural style.
Getting There: From Siem Reap, take the road to Angkor Wat. At the moat of Angkor Wat, turn right. Travel a short distance until your reach Prasat Kravan on your right.

The Noblemen’s Temple

Prasat Kravan is a brick temple built in the first half of the 10th century. The name Prasat Kravan means “cardamon sanctuary”, referring to a cardamon tree that once grew in the temple’s central tower. Prasat Kravan’s carvings are the only brick bas-reliefs in Angkor.

Noblemen and high officials, not a king, constructed Prasat Kravan. They dedicated the temple to the Hindu deities Vishnu and Lakshmi. The noblemen also built a twin temple of Prasat Kravan. It is called Prasat Neang Khmau, locaed south of Phnom Penh. Prasat Kravan’s twin temple was decorated with a series of paintings, some of which are still appreciable.

Prasat Kravan faces east, like most Angkorian temples, and consists of five prasats (towers). All of the towers sit atop a common platform, and they are arranged in a straight line, from north to south. Only the central and the southern prasats still have their superstructures (roof-like tops).

In the 1960’s, Prasat Kravan underwent meticulous restoration. In the process, archeologists introduced modern bricks to the temple’s framework. These new bricks are labeled CA (Conservation Angkor). Despite the unoriginal bricks and the missing superstructures, Prasat Kravan appears much as it would have over 1000 years ago. It is an extremely well preserved temple.

The central and northernmost prasats house an array of lovely bas-reliefs. The three carved walls of the central prasat depict the Hindu deity Vishnu. Lakshmi, Vishnu’s accomplice, is the focus of the northern prasat’s bas-reliefs.

Unlike most Angkorian temples, which are reddish in color, the bricks of Prasat Kravan are a pallid shade of tan or salmon. They look wonderful under bright, high noon sunlight.

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