A temple and two south east asian neighbours

Two South east Asian countries, fighting over a Hindu Shiva Temple, 1100 years old and dating back to khmer era called Preah Vihear temple. I was a little bit worried and taken aback that in India we fight to disown our Hindu heritage in the name of secularism and here are two south asian countries that are fighting for a temple that came from India the fountainhead of Hindu spirituality.

Map locates the Preah Vihear temple in dispute between Cambodia and Thailand.

Source: Sydney Morning herald

In its illustrious past Cambodia controlled an empire covering much of South-East Asia. Carvings on the walls of Cambodia’s national monument, the 12th century temple of Angkor Wat, depict Cambodian victories over the Thais. The name of the nearest modern town, Siem Reap, means “Thailand flattened”. But in 1431 it was the Thais who sacked and conquered the Cambodian capital at Angkor. Until the early 20th century the Thai empire included parts of what is now northern Cambodia, including the temple of Preah Vihear.

The two countries went to the International Court of Justice in 1962 to settle the ownership of the temple, and to Thailand’s dismay Cambodia won the case. But the court did not decide the status of a small parcel of land next to the temple, which is the subject of this dispute.

Either way the history goes like the temple building was started in 9th centuary 100 years before the Angkor watt, an expansive 5 gate temple complex with librries and all facilities dedicated to lord shiva. The temple construction followed until 11th and 12th centuaries when it was completed by kings Suryawarmn I and II.

Source: Taxivantha

Preah Vihear was the ultimate sacred temple for the Khmers and provided a place for worship and respect for kings and scholars during more than 300 years. Preah Vihear was more than a temple it was a special sanctuary for study and reflection on the close connection between the heavens and the earth as well as the divinity of Shiva.

Anounced a World Heritage cite in July 2008:

Source: UNESCO

The Temple of Preah Vihear, a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 metre long axis, is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment.

Criterion (i): Preah Vihear is an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture. It is very ‘pure’ both in plan and in the detail of its decoration.

Authenticity, in terms of the way the buildings and their materials express well the values of the property, has been established. The attributes of the property comprise the temple complex; the integrity of the property has to a degree been compromised by the absence of part of the promontory from the perimeter of the property. The protective measures for the Temple, in terms of legal protection are adequate; the progress made in defining the parameters of the Management Plan needs to be consolidated into an approved, full Management Plan.

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