Pre Rup

March 1, 2009

in Angkor Temples

Temple Name: Pre Rup
Notable Features: Beautiful towers and terraces
Getting There: Most tuk tuk drivers know where Pre Rup is located. Coming from Srah Srang, Pre Rup is located at a bend in the road between Srah Srang and East Mebon. It is a large temple – very difficult to miss.

King Rajendravarman’s Khmer Capital

King Rajendravarman constructed Pre Rup sometime in the 10th Century to be the capital of the new Khmer Empire. Pre Rup is one of the most architecturally and stylistically noteworthy structures in Angkor. Ornate bas-reliefs adorn the temple walls and towers. Carved guardian lions sit atop the temple terraces. And from atop the terraces, visitors enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

After the death of King Jayavarman IV, the Khmer Empire was not strongly unified. One of Jayavarman IV’s sons took over his father’s kingship, but he died after a few short years. Rajendravarman, Jayavarman IV’s cousin, filled the authoritative void. As king, Rajendravarman decided to relocate the Khmer capital to the south bank of the East Baray, where Pre Rup now lies.

Pre Rup’s ancient name is Rajendrabhadresvara – a paying of homage to its founding king. The name Pre Rup means “turning the body”, referring to Khmer cremation traditions. Although cremation may’ve taken place at Pre Rup, this modern name seems to negate the enormous historical significance of Pre Rup as one of the capitals of the Khmer Empire.

The towers, or prasats, that adorn Pre Rup are well preserved. Pre Rup has been the object of ongoing restorative efforts. The bas-relief artwork and hieroglyphs are magnificently detailed, and the lion statuary surrounds the temple with a royal air.

Pre Rup is best viewed when the sun is low in the sky, either in the early morning or late afternoon hours. During these hours, the temple stone appears rich in texture, and a variety of reddish hues become appreciable.

The temple’s terrace can be difficult to scale. Its stairs are steep, so drink plenty of water, wear a good pair of walking shoes, and be prepared for some thigh-burning stair climbing.

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