Friday April 19, 2019

Preah Vihear: Here is Why this UNESCO World Heritage site in Cambodia is popular among Tourists!

Affording a view for many kilometers across a plain, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-centuries-long Khmer Empire.

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Preah Vihear Temple in Cambodia, Wikimedia

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), April 29, 2017: Phnom Penh in Cambodia is a place that is synonymous with serenity and conflict. The beautiful Royal Palace, the fluttering robes of monks fill peace in the air of this place. But there is more to the place that meets the eye.

Once the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh’s shine was tarnished by the impact of war and revolution. But the city has since risen from the ashes to take its place among the hip capitals of the region, with an alluring cafe culture and bustling bars.

Apart from all the beauty it holds, Cambodia’s capital can be an assault on the senses at times. Motorbikes whiz through laneways without a thought for pedestrians; markets exude pungent scents; and all the while the sounds of life – of commerce, of survival – reverberate through the streets. With time, it has all become a part of the attraction.

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What’s more surprising is that there is an ancient Hindu temple built in this exotic city. Preah Vihear Temple has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-centuries-long Khmer Empire.

As a key edifice of the empire’s spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles. Perched on a hilltop with a commanding view of its surroundings. predating Angkor Wat by 100 years, the history of the temple/fortress is somewhat unclear, but it is known to be dedicated to the god Shiva and thought to have been constructed in the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-50), with further significant additions by Suryavarman II (1113-50). Unlike most Khmer temples, the temple is constructed on a long north-south axis, instead of the usual rectangular plan facing east.

The temple gives its name to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located.

Journey inside the temple:

  • The fun starts with162 stone steps, a fairly steep climb that will get you warmed up nicely. Your reward is a short set of stairs decorated with nagas and Gopura I, a solitary pavilion with a fluttering Cambodian flag.
  • A 500-metre gently climbing avenue leads up to Gopura II, another smallish pavilion, and a large boray (water cistern, #4) to the left.
  • Yet another avenue (somewhat shorter this time) leads to Gopura III, but also the first courtyard of the temple and the first point where visitors to Angkor Wat will start feeling a sense of deja vu. Make a detour to the left side of the gopura to see relics of a more modern era, in the form of a rusting artillery gun and a few bunkers.
  • A short causeway decorated with nagas leads to the inevitableGopura IV  and behind it the second courtyard. On the other side of the courtyard is Gopura V (Galleries) and beyond it the main Sanctuary, the centrepiece of the site which now houses a miniature Buddhist temple.
  • But what makes the effort worthwhile lies just outside, so sneak out the left side to find yourself at Pei Ta Da Cliff, with a sheer 500-metre drop and a jaw-dropping vista of the Cambodian jungles below.

Although there are constant conflicts between Cambodia and Thailand but the temple transcends over these “small” issues to retain its glory.

– by Nikita Tayal of NewsGram, Twitter: @NikitaTayal6 

  • is this a press article or just a messed mixed ideas draft?

  • Gearsau

    Pity that the writer didn’t do some home work before she wrote this . Preah Vihear Temple isn’t located in Phnom Penh, but, on top of a mountain, some 300 kilometers away. That’s in a straight line BTW .

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Strict Conservation Laws Result in Eviction of Hundreds of Indigenous Karen People in Thailand

After the military government took charge in 2014, it vowed to "take back the forest" and increase forest cover to about 40 percent of the total surface area from about a third.

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Salween River
A view of the Salween River is seen from a small Thai-Karen village on the Thai side of the river, Nov. 17, 2014. VOA

Hundreds of indigenous Karen people in Thailand face evictions from a national park that authorities wish to turn into a World Heritage Site, joining millions in a similarly precarious situation as authorities worldwide push tough .

The Kaeng Krachan is Thailand’s biggest national park, sprawled over more than 2,900 square kilometers (1,120 square miles) on the border with neighboring Myanmar.

Renowned for its diverse wildlife, it is also home to about 30 communities of ethnic Karen people, who have traditionally lived and farmed there — and is on a tentative list of world heritage sites.

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Last year the country’s top court ruled that about 400 who had been evicted in 2011 had no legal right over the land. Pixabay

The United Nations’ cultural agency (UNESCO) had referred the submission back to the Thai government in 2016, asking it to address “rights and livelihood concerns” of the Karen communities, and get their support for the nomination.

The Thai government plans to respond later this year, according to campaigners.

“The communities have not been consulted or reassured on their access to the forest,” said Kittisak Rattanakrajangsri of advocacy group Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact.

“The communities are not opposed to the heritage status,” he told Reuters. “They are just asking that they not be evicted, and that their land rights are secure — because if the park gets heritage status without that, there will be a great many more evictions.”

A spokesman for the forest department did not respond to requests for comment.

A spokesman for the U.N. human rights office (OHCHR) in Bangkok said they had recently facilitated a meeting between a rights organization working with the Karen, and Thai officials.

Worldwide, more than 250,000 people were evicted from protected areas in 15 countries from 1990 to 2014, according to Washington D.C.-based advocacy group Rights and Resources Initiative.

In India, more than 1.9 million indigenous families face evictions after their forest rights claims were rejected.

‘No legal rights’

Since Kaeng Krachan was declared a national park in 1981, hundreds of Karen — a hill tribe people thought to number about 1 million in Thailand — have been evicted, according to activists.

Last year the country’s top court ruled that about 400 who had been evicted in 2011 had no legal right over the land.

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In India, more than 1.9 million indigenous families face evictions after their forest rights claims were rejected. Pixabay

“The security of indigenous people in Thailand is so tenuous because they have no legal rights, and no recognition of their dependence on forests,” said Worawuth Tamee, an indigenous rights lawyer.

“The laws have made them encroachers,” he said.

A 2010 Cabinet resolution had called for recognizing the Karen people’s way of life and their right to earn a livelihood the traditional way. But this has not been implemented, said
Tamee.

After the military government took charge in 2014, it vowed to “take back the forest” and increase forest cover to about 40 percent of the total surface area from about a third.

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This has resulted in hundreds of reclamations from farmers and forest dwellers, according to research organization Mekong Region Land Governance.

“It is the biggest challenge facing indigenous people,” said Tamee. “Parks are not just for the enjoyment of city people and tourists. They are also the home of poor, indigenous people who have nowhere else to go.” (VOA)