Back to last quarter of 2012 (ough…. it’s been already 8 years ago!), I was so lucky having the opportunity to visit the beautiful temple complex of Koh Ker, the 10th-century Angkorian temple which is located about 120 km northeast of Angkor complex or the city of Siem Reap. This remote temple complex has dozens of enchanting temples which some of them are in the form of ruins and have a little bit of mystical aura.
The long distances between Angkor and Koh Ker perhaps, had its own story. Based on some inscriptions, originally the capital of the Khmer empire was located in Yasodharapura in Angkor Area. It’s established there in the 9th century and lasted for the next five centuries although there were always some debates on it. Some said that there was an establishment of the rival capital in 928 by King Jayavarman IV. He moved the royal capital from Yasodharapura, Angkor, to Chok Gargyar, -which means Island of Glory-, or at that time also known as Lingapura. This place is now known as Koh Ker. But after King Jayavarman IV died in 941, King Harshavarman II, -the King Jayavarman IV’s son as his successor-, in the year 944 moved the royal capital back to Angkor, and it was followed by his successor, King Rajendravarman II. And the city of Lingapura as ex-royal capital was being left.
Lingapura or the city of Linga had described the meaning of its own name. About 1 km from Prasat Thom, -the center of the capital in Koh Ker-, there are roofless temples which are still quite intact consisting of a Linga standing upright on a Yoni (the pedestal), both of which are gigantic in size. The endtip of the Yoni, which is the place where the purified water flows, penetrates the wall and came outside of the temple. Usually the common people gets the water that is believed to have been purified, from the endtip of the Yoni, outside of the temple wall.
The Linga and Yoni is really gigantic, bigger than a standing normal person. At least, the parashakti or the Yoni is around my height. Imagine the Linga that is standing above the Yoni. It is the Cambodian largest and best preserved Lingas ever found.
Based on the inscription, there was a linga (I thought the biggest one) that had the most enormous size. It’s was 4.5 meters from the floor and has the diameter around 1.5 meters. With that size, it can be estimated up to 24 tons of weight. It’s gigantic, isn’t it?
All the Linga and Yoni are decorated beautifully. There is a beautiful curved line carved on the top part of Linga and there is also beautiful carvings on the top part of the Yoni, included the part that penetrates the wall.
The other place where a gigantic linga was located was near Prasat Thneng. Unfortunately there was no more building that housed the Linga and also the parashakti or the Yoni was not there anymore. It can be said that the gigantic linga was left alone, fallen on the ground and abandoned in ruins.
Actually a linga or some called it a lingam, is a symbol in Hinduism. It is associated to Shiva, the supreme god. Based on the Hindu scriptures, it is said that a linga represents energy and strength. In almost all the Hindu temples that are dedicated to Shiva, the main deity Shiva is shown in the form of a linga which usually represents one of the elements, which is the earth, the water, the fire, the air and the sky (or ether).
I was really enjoying to explore Koh Ker temple complex especially around Prasat Linga with all those gigantic sandstone. Although the people living around the temple complex were still below the line of prosperity, I saw that tourism facilities have been built recently, such as simple standard toilet and restaurant. With the enchanting temple and those simple supporting facilities, local people may hope that many more tourists will come to this remote temple complex which are surrounded by lush trees and full of the sounds of exotic birds. At the end, it will increase the prosperity of the people.
But at the time I visited Koh Ker, it’s a little bit difficult to reach the temple. Unfortunately, I did not see any public transportation. I went there by a rented car from Siem Reap because I had to go to Beng Mealea and Preah Vihear as well. But perhaps, it’s different now. The road condition was quite good, although some parts look bumpy.
Eight years ago, the Koh Ker complex’s entrance fee for foreign visitors was US$ 10, which was quite expensive compared to the entire Angkor Temple which was US$ 20 per day.
This post was written in response to the weekly challenge from Celina’s Blog, Srei’s Notes, Cerita Riyanti, and also A Rhyme In My Heart, which is the 48th week of 2020 has the theme of Symbol, so we are encouraged ourselves to write articles weekly. If you are interested to take part in this challenge, we welcome you… and of course we will be very happy!