PRE RUP, SIEM REAP (CAMBODIA) â€“ It is true when people say oneâ€™s power cannot be measured by size alone. In the case of Banteay Srei, its small proportion compared to the majestic Angkor Thom or Angkor Wat did not even matter. Banteay Srei was equally fascinating because of its reddish sandstone images and very ornate carvings. Banteay Srei left us giddy.
It started to drizzle while we were exploring Banteay Srei. So we decided to wrap up and leave for another temple called Pre Rup. Actually, we passed by Pre Rup on our way to Banteay Srei but we decided to visit on our way back.
Just like our trip going to Banteay Srei, the trip back was equally fascinating. The air was cooler because of the fresh rain and it smelled sweeter because of the watered grass. Again, we were able to get see the Cambodian countryside flashing before our eyes. Every now and then, we chance upon locals who are attending to their daily chores.
After about half an hour of travel riding Mr. Rithâ€™s tuk-tuk, we arrived at Pre Rup, a temple that was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. This temple was built in the tenth century during the reign of Rajendravarman. It is a very eye-catching temple because of the intimidating brick walls. Our English speaking guide, Mr. Sambo, mentioned that it is safe to allot about thirty minutes in exploring the entire temple grounds.
The modern meaning of the name Pre Rup is â€œturn the body.â€ Based on what was explained to us, Cambodians believe that certain rituals including funerals were done at this temple. The body, once it is turned to ashes, is moved to face different directions as the ritual progressed.
Pre Rup can be found specifically around 500 meters of the South Bank of the East Baray. It was the State Temple of King Rajendravarmanâ€™s capital and was dedicated sometime 961 or 962. It was built in such a way that it is elevated from the ground. Because its location, it was called a temple mountain. This temple mountain was constructed and made strong through the use of sandstone, laterite, and bricks which gave it the glowing reddish color.
While exploring the temple grounds, it slowly becomes evident that a square lay out was used for Pre Rup. There are also two perimeter walls. Mr. Sambo pointed towards the three towers that were built within the temple grounds and these towers are aligned North to South. Aside from these towers, there are also libraries that were built on both sides of the walkway.
The most intimidating feature of Pre Rup would have to be the long flight of steps that lead up to the top level of the towers. From down below, it seemed that the steps were endless and quite difficult to conquer! There were also stone lions installed on the intermediate landings. There are reddish ornate carvings similar to the ones that we saw at Banteay Srei. As expected, deities have been carved in the form of bas reliefs as if to serve as guardians to the towers. One of my favorites and one of the most popular
would have to be a carving of the god Indra standing on top of his three-headed elephant.
We decided to go for it as we were told by our guide that the view is fantastic at the top. It was an easy feat given that the steps were becoming narrower and steeper as we went up. There were times when it was necessary for us to climb or rather crawl on all fours for us to keep our balance. True enough, we were breathless but what we saw was simply breathtaking. We were also able to see one of Angkor Watâ€™s towers from where we were standing. In some sections, it even looked like we were standing over the edge of the earth we can jump to another dimension if we wanted to.
The best times to visit Pre Rup would have to be either during sunrise or during the late afternoon nearing sunset. The reddish color of the stone and bricks are more glorious and are emphasized during these times because of the sunâ€™s rays. Most tourists flock to this temple during these times also because of the unobstructed view of the sky. A lot of people wait around for the sunset that some vendors take advantage of the opportunity and offer all sorts of food items and drinks to tourists. Some could be seen selling coffee while some sold cold beer.
Given that we visited during the rainy season, dark clouds started to gather when we were about to leave Pre Rup. We could not visit any other temples like Phnom Bakheng even if we wanted to because of the heavy rains. So, Pre Rup marked the end of our tour of the Angkor temples.
All the temples â€“ from Angkor Thom, Ta Phrom, Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, and Pre Rup â€“ were just amazing. We very much felt the rich history pulsating within the temple walls as we explored the temples. We will forever cherish our visit and we will always be grateful for being able to experience the beauty of the Angkor temples at least once in our lifetime.