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Sexual Frustration in the Monasteries?

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"Tantric Age" in Angkor and India

Dr.Uday Dokras

From the 8th to the 14th century, Tantric traditions rose to prominence and flourished throughout India and beyond. By the 10th century, the main elements of tantric practice had reached maturity and were being practiced in Saiva and Buddhist contexts. This period has been referred to as the "Tantric Age" by some scholars due to prevalence of Tantra. Also by the 10th century, numerous tantric texts (variously called Agamas, Samhitas and Tantras) had been written, particularly in Kashmir, Nepal and Bengal.

By this time, Tantric texts had also been translated into regional languages such as Tamil, and Tantric practices had spread across South Asia. Tantra also spread into Tibet, Indonesia and China. Gavin Flood describes this "Tantric age" as follows:

Tantrism has been so pervasive that all of Hinduism after the eleventh century, perhaps with the exception of the vedic Shruta tradition eeverything is influenced by it. Śrauta is a Sanskrit word that means "belonging to śruti", that is, anything based on the Vedas of Hinduism. It is an adjective and prefix for texts, ceremonies or person associated with śruti. The term, for example, refers to Brahmins who specialise in the śruti corpus of texts, and Śrauta Brahmin traditions in modern times can be seen in Kerala and Coastal AndhraAll forms of Saiva, Vaisnava and Smarta religion, even those forms which wanted to distance themselves from Tantrism, absorbed elements derived from the Tantras

Though the whole northern and Himalayan part of India was involved in the development of tantraKashmir was a particularly important center, both Saiva and Buddhist and numerous key tantric texts were written there according to Padoux. According to Alexis Sanderson, the Śaiva Tantra traditions of medieval Kashmir were mainly divided between the dualistic Śaiva Siddhanta and the non-dualist theology found in Śakta lineages like the Trika, Krama and Kaula. The non-dualists generally accepted and made use of sexual and transgressive practices, while the dualists mostly rejected them.

In Khmer

Saiva tantra was especially successful because it managed to forge strong ties with South Asian kings who valued the power (shakti) of fierce deities like the warrior goddess Durga as a way to increase their own royal power. These kings took part in royal rituals led by Saiva "royal gurus" in which they were symbolically married to tantric deities and thus became the earthly representative of male gods like Shiva. Saiva tantra could also employ a variety of protection and destruction rituals which could be used for the

benefit of the kingdom and the kingTantric Shaivism was adopted by the kings of Kashmir, as well as by the Somavamshis of Odisha, the Kalachuris, and the Chandelas of Jejakabhukti (in Bundelkhand). There is also evidence of state support from the Cambodian Khmer Empire. As noted by Samuel, in spite of the increased depiction of female goddesses, these tantric traditions all seemed to have been mostly "male-directed and male-controlled."

During the "Tantric Age", Buddhist Tantra was embraced by the Mahayana Buddhist mainstream and was studied at the great universities such as Nalanda and Vikramashila, from which it spread to Tibet and to the East Asian states of China, Korea, and Japan. This new Tantric Buddhism was supported by the Pala Dynasty (8th–12th century) which supported these centers of learning. The later Khmer kings and the Indonesian Srivijaya kingdom also supported tantric Buddhism. While the sexual and transgressive practices were mostly undertaken in symbolic form (or through visualization) in later Tibetan Buddhist monastic contexts, it seems that in the eighth to tenth century Indian context, they were actually performed.

Shiva as Tribhuvaneshwar

The Concept of the Sacred Phallus and the Lord of the 3 realms warga (heaven), prithvi (earth) and patala (netherworld)

The Danavas (demon sons of Danu), Daityas (demon sons of Diti), Yakshas and the snake-people Nagas (Serpent-human formed sons of Kadru), live in the realms of Patala.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, caves inhabited by asuras are entrances to Patala; these asuras, particularly female asuras, are often "tamed" (converted to Buddhism) as dharmapala or dakinis by famous Buddhist figures such as Padmasambhava

Chok Gargyar/Koh Ker: Angkor city dedicated to Lord Shiva as Tribhuvaneshwara

Lord Shiva as [[Tribhuvaneshwara[[: Devotion to Lord Shiva and veneration of the sacred phallus, the lingam, was the base of establishment of the Civilization of Khmer–right from its foundation in 802 CE. Phallus worship started when Jayavarman II, founder of Khmer Kingdoms or the first mighty Lord of the Khmer tribes consecrated himself king on top of Mahendraparvata, announcing his lordship over the country and sovereignty of Cambodia- by a Rajyabhishekh- or Coronation.

This CORONATION or CONSECRATION was not what normally is coronation in other civilizations that are non –hindu. In Hinduism it is “taking over the reigns” and celebratory practices that follow this. To conduct this ceremony Brahmins or Hindu priests are invited and Jayavarman II had as per inscriptions called forward a Priest named Hiranyadama. In this ceremony this Hiranyadama , sanctified a royal lingam symbolising the temporal authority of Jayavarman II as Chakravartin (universal monarch). After his death, Jayavarman II was given the posthumous title Paramesvara (Supreme Lord), one of the many manifestations of Lord Shiva.

Over the next century, every new ruler on the occasion of his rajyabhiseka would consecrate the royal lingam, thus establishing his divine authority, and taking on the responsibilities of kingship as the Devaraja (God-King). The royal lingam was ceremonially installed in a mountain-temple, which formed the nucleus of an urban settlement. During the period of Harshavarman I (r. 910–923) and his successor Ishanavaraman II (r. 923–928), Angkor was ruled from the twin cities Yashodharapura and Hariharalaya. However, mere installation of a lingam with magical powers neither ensured peace and stability nor longevity of the ruler. Rulers had to be eternally vigilant and be ready to thwart rivals and quell rebellions.

In 921 CE, an inscription describes the establishment of a rival power at a remote location, 127 km northeast of Yashodharapura. This challenger, Jayavarman IV, was a maternal uncle to Ishanavarman II. Jayavarman IV named his seat of power Chok Gargyar and on December 12, 921 CE, conducted a grand consecration ceremony of the royal lingam as Tribhuvaneshwara.

This specially chosen manifestation of Lord Shiva as the Supreme Lord of Three Realms, i.e. swarga (heaven), prithvi (earth) and patala (netherworld), was an appropriate metaphor for the new king’s ambitions. This city of Chok Gargyor was located roughly midway on a highway connecting Yashodharapura to Preah Vihear. From Preah Vihear, the road split in two directions: one went towards Phimai in Thailand, and the other to Wat Phu in Laos; both crucial outposts of the empire. This gave Jayavarman IV strategic edge, allowing him to boss over Angkor. In 928 CE, Isanavarman II’s chaotic reign ended, and Jayavarman IV’s moment of glory arrived. He crowned himself Chakravartin.


Jayavarman IV set about commissioning grand construction projects to encourage new settlers and establish his writ as absolute monarch. He shifted the seat of power to Chok Gargyar, and set out planning a new city worthy of its status as capital of the most powerful empire in Southeast Asia. Jayavarman IV was acutely aware of Chok Gargyar’s Achilles’ heel, its disadvantageous location in a hot, dry region with few natural water resources. To address this problem, the largest project undertaken at Chok Gargyar was the construction of a vast baray (water harvesting tank), called the Rahal. Measuring 1185 m x 548 m, the Rahal met the daily water requirements of a large population and helped in irrigation of agricultural fields. According to UNESCO:

Koh Ker: Archeological site of Ancient Lingapura Or Chok Gargyar

Koh Ker or Chok Gargyar, as it is known in Old Khmer inscriptions, is a 10th-century temple complex and former capital of the Khmer Empire, situated in northern Cambodia. The name of the site, Chok Gargyar, is in itself unique, as it is the only site we know of to be named in the Old Khmer language (Khmer ancient capital are usually named in Sanskrit) and referring to a natural feature, namely the tree now known as Koki or iron wood tree (Hopea odorata) which can reach up to 45 m and is valued for its dense wood quality that is water and termite-resistant. The densely forested site containing a total of 169 archaeological remains,

including 76 temples, as well as civil structures, ponds, dykes, and ancient roads, is located centrally between three other Cambodian World Heritage Sites - Preah Vihear, Angkor, and Sambor Prei Kuk. It stands at a distance of 102 km to the north-east of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, 126 km to the south of Preah Vihear Temple Site, and north-west to Sambor Prei Kuk Site at a distance of 171 km. Situated between the slopes of the Dangrek and Kulen mountains, Koh Ker has a landscape characterized by rolling hills of variable heights ranging from 70 m to 110 m, forming a gentle slope from South to North, and coinciding with the watershed of the Steung Sen River.

Koh Ker was the capital of the Khmer Empire for a brief period, between 928-941 C.E. under its founder King Jayavarman IV. As yet, the only authentic, contemporary information about the political ideology of Angkor comes from the Koh Ker inscription which establishes a clear shift of Khmer political ideology from ‘rāja’ or king, to ‘rājya’ or the kingdom and its people. In support of this new ideology, no war was waged by Jayavarman IV; his reign was the most peaceful phase of the Khmer Empire, which enabled a cultural resurgence. This time of peace allowed Jayavarman IV to carry

out projects of regional, social, economic and architectural development, town planning and rural infrastructure, of which the ensemble of monuments at Koh Ker bear testimony. The art and architecture of Koh Ker was also developed to reflect and affirm the dominance and uniqueness of Jayavarman IV’s political identity, particularly with the use of a monumentality of scale in architecture, and dynamism in sculpture, both of which is unmatched in other Khmer legacies.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

Koh Ker represents a unique vision in the arts, architecture and introduces new technologies, which changed urban planning for the coming centuries.​ The most important monuments of the capital are situated close to and in the immediate vicinity of the Prasat Thom complex, where the seven-tiered pyramid, also known as Prasat Prang, the only one in Southeast Asia, forms the apotheosis of an eccentric building style known only in Koh Ker. Prasat Thom complex is also the central axis around which the capital is geometrically formed.

Another exceptional characteristic of Koh Ker is the development of water management techniques. The water management system at Koh Ker was a hybrid one, combining elements of a highland system of damming river valleys with elements of the classical lowland system of huge reservoirs, canals and bunded fields. An earlier form of this system may be observed at the World Heritage Site of Sambor Prei Kuk (6th-7th centuries C.E.), while a far more elaborated system was later in use in Angkor. Koh Ker thus served as a huge laboratory for what was to come, situating itself perfectly between early drainage (Oc-Eo) and catchment trials

(Sambor Prei Kuk) and the far more sophisticated hydrological system can be observed in the later Angkor period. Along with management of water, the structures of Koh Ker, particularly the Lingas and the Rahal were planned using the natural terrain in such a way that the flow of water through the site becomes an act of sacralising.

The Hindu character of the site is best revealed through its monumental art of which the sculptures are the most prominent, executed in the ronde-bosse technique. Drawing on earlier styles, its creators soon developed a distinct art, advancing sculpting techniques while inventing the hybrid figure. The best examples are the Dancing Shiva with a presumed height of 6 m at Prasat Kraham and the recently discovered ensembles at Prasat Chen depicting scenes of the Mahabharata (the last fight in the battle of Kurukshetra between Bhima and Duryodhana) and the Ramayana (the fight between Valin and Sugriva).

Scenes like these may well be found at other temple sites but is the first time and also last that they have been brought alive through monumental sculpture formations, whether in and outside the Khmer Empire. Its iconography is unique and is currently referred to as the Koh Ker style.

Koh Ker’s sphere of influence too was secured through a well developed network of cultural routes that connected it not only to every corner of the Khmer Empire but beyond, to subcontinental Asia. Cultural sharing enabled by Royal Roads ensured that the buildings, artwork, inscriptions and landscape design of Koh Ker and surrounding temples constitute the most significant and comprehensive early expression of a distinct

Khmer culture that drew upon and adapted Indian religious concepts and iconography and their accompanying artistic and architectural styles. The site is thus an outstanding example of how influences from Indian architecture and artworks were assimilated and refined in the distinctive Koh Ker style. The Indian concepts were modified to meet the specific needs of this emergent empire and its social, religious and agrarian order, which ultimately evolved into a distinct Khmer culture that constitutes a milestone in urban planning and the plastic arts in Southeast Asia.

Criterion (ii): Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar is an outstanding example of ideas and values expressed through the monumental arts in the early 10th century C.E. in Cambodia. As evidenced by the site, the political structure, religious practices and material culture marked important advances that had a lasting impact in the country and region. The buildings, artwork, inscriptions and landscape design of Koh Ker and other surrounding temples constitute the most significant and complete early expression of a distinct Khmer culture that drew upon and adapted Indian religious concepts and

iconography and their accompanying artistic and architectural styles. The site is an outstanding example of how influences from India in terms of architecture and artwork were assimilated and refined in the distinctive Koh Ker style. The Indian concepts were modified to meet the specific needs of this emergent empire and its social, religious and agrarian order, which ultimately evolved into a distinct Khmer culture that constitutes a milestone in urban planning and the plastic arts in the Southeast Asia region.

Its outstanding architecture, a distinct and original adaptation of Indian influence, introduces to the Southeast Asia region colossal-sized statues and construction in new aesthetic forms. This shows a creative idea and concept that originated at Koh Ker, giving rise to the so-called Koh Ker style. The scenes of Mahabharata and Ramayana were narrated in the form of individual characters carved in stone rather than carvings in the form of bas-relief. The extraordinary architecture of the religious shrines is apparent in the stepped-pyramid temple of Prasat Thom and other temples dedicated to Shiva.

Criterion (iv): Koh Ker: Archaeological Site of Ancient Lingapura or Chok Gargyar embodies the remains of a very well-organized urban complex, the capital of a unique past civilization. The ancient capital city is an exceptional testimony of a cultural tradition with centralized political power, bearing Hindu religious features. Its civilization was deeply influenced by the Indian subcontinent in terms of social institutions, religion and art which were assimilated into indigenous customs, ideology and artistic expressions. Koh Ker marks the time when a distinctive Khmer culture/identity emerged from this cross‐cultural

exchange. It is at Koh Ker that we find the first evidence of the giant-size infrastructure symbolizing powerful elements in Cambodian and Southeast Asian history. The infrastructure was the biggest not only in Cambodia, but in Southeast Asia. Jayavarman IV introduced the first artificial giant structure in his capital, where he established the stepped pyramid of Prasat Thom, as well as its giant sculptures. The uniqueness of the architecture and sculpture in Koh Ker represents the technological prowess exhibited in Khmer art.

==PRASAT PRANG - City Crowned by the Tribhuvaneshwara Linga==,

Jayavarman IV further executed his imperial vision through the temple-mountain he commissioned, which surpassed all previous temple-mountains in scale and size. Prasat Prang —as the pyramidal structure is now called— rose to a height of 120 feet and was crowned by the Tribhuvaneshwara Linga, which, according to French archaeologist Henri Parmentier, stood 14-feet tall. This was the largest lingam ever made in Angkor, and lifting it to the top of the pyramid was a monumental feat of engineering and manpower, recorded in inscriptions with great joy and relief on its successful installation. 

Before Koh Ker became capital of the Khmer empire (928 AD), numerous sanctuaries with Shiva-lingas existed already. Koh Ker was a cult site where Shiva had been worshipped a long time. Also Jayavarman IV was an ardent worshipper of this Hindu god. As later kings (whose residence was not in Koh Ker) changed from Hinduism to Buddhism they gave orders to make the necessary adjustments at their temples. Because of its remoteness, the sanctuaries at Koh Ker were spared from these interventions. Several inscriptions were found which mention Koh Ker as capital of the empire in Siem Reap, Battambang, Take  and Kampong Cham (city). From inscriptions discovered at Koh Ker, it is estimated that more than ten thousand people lived at Koh Ker when it was the capital (928 – 944 AD). The inscriptions explain how manpower was organised: taxes in

form of rice were raised in the whole country and served to provide for the workers who came from different provinces. An inscription at Prasat Damrei says that the shrine on the top of the state temple (Prang) houses a lingam of about 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) and that the erection of this Shiva-symbol gave a lot of problems". A Sanskrit inscription at Prasat Thom gives evidence of the consecration of a Shiva-lingam 921 AD which was worshipped under the name of Tribhuvaneshvara ("Lord of the Threefold World").

The center of the ancient city was in the north-east corner of the baray (water-tank). Inscriptions say at least ten thousand inhabitants lived there during the rule of Jayavarman IV. Past researchers believed a square wall with a side length of 1.2 km (1,312 yd) protected the town. But new research indicates that the linear structures found in this part of Koh Ker were dykes of ancient canals. Concerning the wooden buildings of the Khmer time no artefacts are found.

MATERIALS: Laterite, sandstone and brick were used as construction materials in Koh Ker. Laterite and sandstone of excellent quality were quarried in great quantities in the region of Koh Ker, so the transport of the stones to the site was no problem. The bricks produced were small, regular and very solid. A thin layer of organic mortar of unknown formula was used, possibly some form of plant sap. After more than a millennium the brick sanctuaries in Koh Ker are in a much better condition than the laterite ones. The roofs of some temples in Koh Ker had a wood construction and were covered with tiles. In these monuments, holes for the wooden girders are found. The main sanctuary (the temple-complex Prasat Thom/Prang) was not standing in the middle of the ancient city.

The lively and famous carving on this pediment represents Shiva Nataraja, the Dancing Shiva, his ten arms splayed out in a dance of death and destruction on Mount Kailash in front of several others gods, including Ganesh, Brahma and VishnuNataraja (literally, The Lord (or King) of Dance, Sanskrit: नटराज) is a depiction of the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic dancer who performs his divine dance to destroy a weary universe and make preparations for god Brahma to start the process of creation.

None of the immense, expressive and beautiful sculptures are left at the site. Numerous of them were stolen and are standing now in museums and also in private collections. Some statues were put away by government organizations to protect them from looters. Many masterpieces of Koh Ker are now in the collection of the National Museum in Phnom Penh.

The center of the ancient city was in the north-east corner of the aray (water-tank). Inscriptions say at least ten thousand inhabitants lived there during the rule of Jayavarman IV. Past researchers believed a square wall with a side length of 1.2 km (1,312 yd) protected the town. But new research indicates that the linear structures found in this part of Koh Ker were dykes of ancient canals. Concerning the wooden buildings of the Khmer time no artefacts are found.

Laterite, sandstone and brick were used as construction materials in Koh Ker. Laterite and sandstone of excellent quality were quarried in great quantities in the region of Koh Ker, so the transport of the stones to the site was no problem. The bricks produced were small, regular and very solid. A thin layer of organic mortar of unknown formula was used, possibly some form of plant sap. After more than a millennium the

brick sanctuaries in Koh Ker are in a much better condition than the laterite ones. The roofs of some temples in Koh Ker had a wood construction and were covered with tiles. In these monuments, holes for the wooden girders are found. The main sanctuary (the temple-complex Prasat Thom/Prang) was not standing in the middle of the ancient city. BARAYS- water Tanks


The huge Baray (water-tank) called Rahal is the largest object at the site of the ancient capital Koh Ker. Its length is about 1,200 m (1,312 yd) and its breath about 560 m (612 yd). The water-tank has three dams covered by steps of laterite. The orientation of the Rahal is not from east to west like the huge water-reservoirs in Angkor; it follows an orientation of North 15° West. Because the most important monuments at Koh Ker have the same orientation it is thought that the Baray was constructed first and the rest of the structures were laid out around it. The Rahal was carved out partly of the stone ground but it is not clear if a natural hollow was the reason for its orientation. These days most parts of the Baray are dried out and covered by grass. Some puddles can be seen in the corner next to the double-sanctuary.

Trapeang Andong Preng

200 m (219 yd) south of the double-sanctuary Prasat Thom/Prang is a basin dug into the earth with a length of 40 m (44 yd). It has steps of laterite on all sides. During the rainy season the water is standing to a depth of 7 m (23 ft 0 in). The Trapeang Andong Prengdoes not belong to a temple, but it could have been a royal bath, because near this place was once the wooden palace of the king.

Complex of the double sanctuary Prasat Thom/Prang

Linear plan

The complex of the main monument in Koh Ker has a linear plan and is about 800 metres (875 yd) long. Its orientation is E15°N, that is parallel to the Baray. The parking area cuts the complex in two parts. On the east side of the parking are two structures, called palaces. On the west side are the other monuments. They are standing behind the restaurants and are from east to west: an immense entrance pavilion, two towers, a red brick entrance-tower (Prasat Krahom), a surrounding wall with two courts (in the eastern court is the temple-complex Prasat Thom with a moat, in the western court stands the seven tiered pyramid, named Prang). Behind the enclosure is an artificial hill, the socalled Tomb of the White Elephant. Except the Prasat Krahom and the Prang (pyramid). This temple-complex is in a bad condition.


At the east side of the parking area are two structures the so-called palaces. Each consists of four rectangular buildings surrounding a court. All eight buildings have three rooms, some have a patio with pillars. Possibly these palaces served as meditation- or prayer-rooms for the king or nobles.

Entrance pavilion and laterite towers

Between the palaces and the closest monument is a distance of 185 metres (607 ft). On the left side of the parking area (behind the restaurants) is the entrance pavilion made of sandstone. It stands 45 metres (148 ft) away from the double sanctuary and has a cruciform ground-plan. The crossbar is 60 metres (197 ft) long; the stringer has a length of 30 metres (98 ft). Parallel to the cross-bar are two halls. Directly behind the entrance-pavilion are the ruins of two huge laterite towers.

Prasat Krahom once housed a statue of the Dancing Shiva with five heads and ten arms. The sculpture had a height of 3.50 metres (11 ft 6 in), but is now broken completely. A fragment of a hand of 0.5 metres (20 in) can be seen in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Prasat Khrom lies behind the ruins of the entrance-pavilion and the laterite towersand is a red brick tower, (krahom = red), which gives entrance to the enclosed monuments. It has a cruciform plan, is in a good condition.

The outer enclosure has a length of 328 metres (1,076 ft) and a breadth of 151 metres (495 ft) An additional wall divides the inner area in two. In the eastern court are a moat and the temple-complex Prasat Thom; in the western court is the pyramid, called Prang. The eastern court with a length of 153 metres (502 ft) is nearly square, the western court has a length of 171 metres (561 ft).


The moat in the eastern court is about 47 metres (154 ft) wide. It borders the Prasat Thom. Lined by trees it looks very picturesque. Two dams, one at the east side, the other at the west side are leading to the ground within the moat. The dams are flanked by Naga-balustrades. On the eastern dam between the Nagas was additionally a colonnade with pillars. Behind each Naga of the east side was standing a huge Garuda.

Prasat Thom

Probably some parts of the Prasat Thom including the moat and the 1. (inner) enclosure were built before 921 AD. The sanctuary was expanded under the reign of Jayavarman IV and has now two surrounding walls inside of the moat. The first wall (inner wall) is made of brick; the second wall (outer wall) with a length of 66 m (217 ft) and a breath of 55 m (180 ft) is made of laterite. Two doors are in the east and in the west. The doors of the second wall have a cruciform plan. The doors of the first wall are smaller and not of cruciform layout. The plane between the first and second wall is completely overbuilt with rectangular

structures, possibly later additions. In the center court is the sanctuary and opposite it are two socalled libraries. Behind the sanctuary on a rectangular platform stand nine towers in two rows (one of five, one four towers). Twelve smaller ====prasats==== in groups of three surround the platform. All 21 towers once housed lingas.[1]: 27–29 


The seventiered pyramid called Prang was probably the state temple of Jayavarman IV. Construction of the sanctuary was started in 928 AD. At ground level one, side of the square building measures 62 m (203 ft). The height is 36 m (118 ft). Originally on the top platform stood a huge lingam probably more than 4 m (13 ft) high and having a weight of several tons. Inscriptions say that it was the tallest and most beautiful Shiva-ling-am. The ling-am probably stood in a shrine which some researchers say could have been about 15 m (49 ft) high. On the north side of the pyramid is a steep staircase leading to the top. The original

stairs are in a very bad condition as is the bamboo-ladder which was constructed in the 20th century, so it is forbidden to climb to the top of the pyramid via this route. There is however a new staircase which can be used to ascend to the top tit of the pyramid. Concerning the seventh tier some scientists say, this was the platform of the shrine because on its sides beautiful reliefs of Garudas were made. There is just one

Khmer temple which resembles the temple Baksei Chamkrong in Angkor. But the fourtiered monument there is much smaller and has a staircase on each of the four sides. On the platform on the top of the Baksei Chamkrong is a prasat in a good condition.

Tomb of the White Elephant

Behind the court with the seventiered pyramid is an artificial hill of exact circle form covered with trees. It is named Tomb of the White elephant. "The white Elephant" is a very well-known legend in southeast Asia. There are different theories about the hill. Some say that this structure could be the foundation of a second pyramid. Others say that it could be the grave of Jayavarman IV. The steep path leading to the top of the hill is closed now because of security reasons.[1]: 7–8  Sanctuaries along the access road

Prasat Pram

The most south sanctuary of this group is the Prasat Pram on the west side of the road. A small (300 metres (328 yd)) long path leads to the monument. It has five towers or [[[prasats]] (pram = five). Three brick towers stand in a row on the same platform. They face east. The central one is a bit taller than the others. In each of these prasats, once stood a lingam. These and the beautifully carved lintels were looted. Two prasats (faced west) are standing in front of the platform. One is built of brick and has diamondshaped holes in the upper part. This fact indicates that this tower once served as a fire sanctuary (fire cults were very important during the

era of the Khmer kings). The other building is small, made of laterite and (in comparison with the brick towers) in bad condition. The bricks of small regular size are held together with an organic mortar of unknown composition (plant sap?). Originally the towers were covered by white stucco; remains of it can still be seen. Two of the towers are pictorially covered by roots. The five towers are surrounded by an enclosure. The collapsed entrance door (gopuram) is at the east side. Two artefacts of the Prasat Pram can be seen in the National Museum in Phnom Penh: A damaged lion statue and fragments of a standing four-armed Vishnu.

Prasat Neang Khmau

Prasat Neang Khmau showing fire-scarred walls

Located 12.5 km (7.8 mi) to the south of the main Koh Ker pyramid and built of sandstone and brick.[9] An early 10th century temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. The temple's fire damaged (black) outer surface probably gave it its name (Neang Khmau means the "Black Lady" in Khmer).

The name of the temple is also said mean "Black Virgin" and legend says it might once have been heaven to Kali, the Dark Goddess of Destruction.

Another legend about the temple says that many years ago a powerful king Preah Bat Sorya Teyong lived at the Chiso mountain. One day his daughter Neang Khmao, went to Tonle Protron and met a handsome man, Bandit Srey, who instantly fell in love with her and who used magic to make her fall in love with him. When the king heard about this he ordered his daughter be exiled and he built two temples for her to live in. Whilst in exile she fell in love with a monk who subsequently fell in love with her and gave up being a monk to live with the princess in the temple since which it has been known as Neang Khmao Temple

Prasat Bak

More north than the Prasat Neang Khmau and on the west side of the road is the Prasat Bak, a small square sanctuary built of laterite; one side measures only 5 m (16 ft). The temple which is in a very bad condition today housed till 1960 a colossal statue of Ganesha (Ganesha is a Hindu god, son of Shiva and Uma. He is depicted with a human body and an elephant's head). It is known, that the sculpture with the sitting Ganesha now is in a collection outside of Cambodia.

Prasat Chen

This sanctuary is the most north of this group and lies too on the west side of the street. It has two enclosures. The main entrance door (now collapsed) was itself a sanctuary with a square central room (one side measured 4 m (13 ft)). Three laterite towers (partially collapsed) stand on the same platform. In front of them are the remains of two brick libraries. The statue of the two fighting monkey kings Sugriva and Valin

(figures of the Hindu epic Ramayana) was found at this site and is now in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. A fragment of a multi-armed statue of Vishnu was found in front of the tower in the middle. In this temple are five inscriptions. They mention the names of all the numerous peoples connected to the temple site and their function.  Monuments along the ring-road

Ruins of Prasat Krachap

Prasat Balang (Prasat Leung Moi)

The Prasat Balang is the first of three Linga-Shrines standing along the ring-road. It is a square laterite building standing on a platform and has one doorway and an open roof. In the sanctuary is an impressive lingam standing on yoni. The phallus-symbol is about 2 m (7 ft) high, has a diameter of nearly 1 m (39 in) and a weight of several tons. Together with the yoni it was carved out of the bedrock at this place. The lingam is in a good condition. The yoni is about 1 m (39 in) high and looks like an altar. On all four sides once were carved reliefs. In each of the four corners stood a beautiful chiselled Garuda with raised arms

giving the impression these mythical figures would bear the yoni. Unfortunately the reliefs and the Garudas were looted. Around the Yoni there is just a small space giving room for some priests to perform the prescribed rituals. The water they put on the lingam became holy by touching the symbol of Shiva, run down and was collected in a ditch of the yoni. Then via a spout (with is still intact) it flowed to the outside of the shrine where believers could touch the blessed water.

Sansakrit-writing (ancient) right -forgotten giant

Prasat Thneng (Prasat Leung Pee

The Prasat Thneng is very similar to the Prasat Balang. Unfortunately looters tried to hack away the impressive lingam but were not successful. A notch of about a depth of half a meter (20 in) is left but the Shicva-symbol is still standing unshakeable at its place on the damaged yoni.

Leung Bye

[[Prasat Leung Bon

Prasat Andong Kuk (Prasat Sralau)

A Buddhist temple built late 12th century/early 13th century in the reign of Jayavarman VII, it was one of more than 100 of hospital-sanctuaries he built. The modern name Sralau refers to a species of tree.

Prasat Krachap

Sometimes written Prasat Kra Chap, today the site has well preserved entrance gate and the ruins of 5 towers arranged in a quincunx. From inscriptions around the doors it has been established that the temple was dedicated in 928 to Tribhuvanadeva, a linga representation of Shiva.

Prasat Bantaey Pee Chean

Banteay Peechean

{{Prasat Chrap[[

A temple comprising 3 towers built of laterite. Today all towers are badly damaged; the interiors with fire damage and the west facades destroyed suggesting damage was deliberate or due to a common design flaw. There are no surviving inscriptions to date the temple nor to identify which gods it was dedicated to.

Prasat Damrei

A small path leads from the ring-road to the Prasat Damrei (damrei = elephant). This sanctuary has an enclosure and stands on a high platform. On each of its four sides is a staircase with about ten steps. Eight stone lions once flanked the stairs but only one remains in its original place. A beautiful elephant sculpture once stood at each of the four corners of the platform but only two remain. The sanctuary is built of brick and is in good condition. A Sanskrit inscription found at the temple offers evidence that an erstwhile lingam was once erected on the top of the pyramid (Prang).

Jayavarman IV may have ruled for only 13 years, not enough time to fully realise his ideas but he was given the posthumous title Paramasivapada (Devoted servant at the feet of Shiva), further emphasising his loyalty to Lord Shiva. During his period, many Shiva temples were built at Chok Gargyar,

Not done

however, nothing was added by his son and successor Harshavarman II. In 944 CE, when Rajendravarman I became the new king, he restored the capital to Yashodharapura, bringing an end to Chok Gargyor’s 16-year period as capital of Angkor.

Without patronage and facing debilitating factors, Chok Gargyor’s construction boom went bust. As feared by Jayavarman IV, the Rahal dried up. The last recorded building added during the period of Jayavarman VII, in beginning of the thirteenth century, was one of his 102 hospital-chapels. By the fourteenth century, when Buddhism established itself as the new official religion of Angkor, the site was abandoned. Since no Buddhist structures were added, Chok Gargyor remained a Hindu site, dedicated exclusively to Lord Shiva. In the nineteenth century, French explorers rediscovered the site and the old name was revived in a new avatar—Koh Ker. 

Covered by thick forests and left unguarded, wanton destruction was unleashed on Koh Ker. Cambodia in the nineteenth century was a shadow of its glorious past and was relegated to a rump state dependant on protection by the French. The French colonialists, taking full advantage of a weak and poor country, plundered Angkor sites, digging up monuments hoping to find hidden treasure. Precious artworks were smuggled out to fill museums in France, like the Guimet Museum in Paris that has in its collection a statue of Jayavarman IV paying homage to Yama—the Hindu God of Death—taken from Koh Ker. 

In the 1970s, Cambodia plunged into a civil war unleashed by the ultra-left Khmer Rouge regime. After the war ended, Koh Ker was painstakingly de-mined and more than 180 monuments identified. In comparison to temples at Angkor, little restoration has happened at Koh Ker. Many ruined monuments are on the verge of collapse; some are supported by wooden frames while others are tied up with wire. Although the site has been pillaged of all standing artwork, it continues to be targeted by gangs of thieves.

Koh Ker needs better protection and conservation. Since 1992, it has been on the UNESCO tentative world heritage list, but has not been recognised yet. During its short period as capital of Angkor, Koh Ker ushered in a golden age of Hindu culture in Cambodia and laid the foundation of a renaissance which followed in the immediate period. The site fully deserves the UNESCO World Heritage Site status, which it should hopefully get in the near future.


In the 10th and 11th centuries, both Shaiva and Buddhist tantra evolved into more tame, philosophical, and liberation-oriented religions. This transformation saw a move from external and transgressive rituals towards a more internalized yogic practice focused on attaining spiritual insight. This recasting also made tantric religions much less open to attack by other groups. In Shaivism, this development is often associated with the Kashmiri master Abhinavagupta (c. 950 – 1016 CE) and his followers, as well the movements which were influenced by their work, like the Sri Vidya tradition (which spread as far as South India, and has been referred to as "high" tantra).

In Buddhism, this taming of tantra is associated with the adoption of tantra by Buddhist monastics who sought to incorporate it within the Buddhist Mahayana scholastic framework. Buddhist tantras were written down and scholars like Abhayakaragupta wrote commentaries on them. Another important figure, the Bengali teacher Atisha, wrote a treatise which placed tantra as the culmination of a graduated Mahayana path to awakening, the Bodhipathapradīpa. In his view, one needed to first begin practicing non-tantric Mahayana, and then later one might be ready for tantra. This system became the model for tantric practice among some

Tibetan Buddhist schools, like the Gelug. In Tibet, the transgressive and sexual practices of tantra became much less central and tantric practice was seen as suitable only for a small elite group. New tantras continued to be composed during this later period as well, such as the Kalachakra (c. 11th century), which seems to be concerned with converting Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike, and uniting them together against Islam.

The Kalachakra teaches sexual yoga, but also warns not to introduce the practice of ingesting impure substances to beginners, since this is only for advanced yogis. This tantra also seems to want to minimize the impact of the transgressive practices, since it advises tantrikas to outwardly follow the customs of their country.


Another influential development during this period was the codification of tantric yogic techniques that would later become the separate movement known as Hatha Yoga. According to James Mallinson, the original "source text" for Hatha Yoga is the Vajrayana Buddhist Amṛtasiddhi (11th century CE) attributed to the mahasiddha Virupa. This text was later adopted by Saiva yogic traditions (such as the Naths) and is quoted in their texts.

Another tradition of Hindu Tantra developed among the Vaishnavas, this was called the Pāñcarātra Agama tradition. This tradition avoided the transgressive and sexual elements that were embraced by the Saivas and the Buddhists. There is also a smaller tantric tradition associated with Surya, the sun godJainism also seems to have developed a substantial Tantra corpus based on the Saura tradition, with rituals based on yakshas and yakshinis. However, this Jain tantrism was mainly used for pragmatic purposes like protection, and was not used to attain liberation. Complete manuscripts of these Jain

tantras have not survived. The Jains also seem to have adopted some of the subtle body practices of tantra, but not sexual yoga. The Svetambara thinker Hemacandra (c. 1089–1172) discusses tantric practices extensively, such as internal meditations on chakras, which betray Kaula and Nath influences.

The earliest date for the Tantra texts related to Tantric practices is 600 CE, though most of them were probably composed after the 8th century onwards. Very little is known about who created the Tantras, nor much is known about the social status of these and medieval era Tantrikas.

The pioneers of Tantra may have been ascetics who lived at the cremation grounds, possibly from "above low-caste groups", and were probably non-Brahmanical and possibly part of an ancient tradition. By the early medieval times, their practices may have included the imitation of deities such as Kali and Bhairava, with offerings of non-vegetarian food, alcohol and sexual substances. According to this theory, these practitioners would have invited their deities to enter them, then reverted the role in order to control that deity and gain its power.These ascetics would have been supported by low castes living at the cremation places.

Samuel states that transgressive and antinomian tantric practices developed in both Buddhist and Brahmanical (mainly Śaiva ascetics like the Kapalikas) contexts and that "Śaivas and Buddhists borrowed extensively from each other, with varying degrees of acknowledgement." According to Samuel, these deliberately transgressive practices included, "night time orgies in charnel grounds, involving the eating of human flesh, the use of ornaments, bowls and musical instruments made from human bones, sexual relations while seated on corpses, and the like."[

Another key element of in the development of tantra was "the gradual transformation of local and regional deity cults through which fierce male and, particularly, female deities came to take a leading role in the place of the yaksa deities." Samuel states that this took place between the fifth to eighth centuries CE. According to some, there are two main scholarly opinions on these terrifying goddesses which became incorporated into Śaiva and Buddhist Tantra. The first view is that they originate out of a pan-Indian religious substrate that was not Vedic. Another opinion is to see these fierce goddesses as developing out of the Vedic religion.

There is an argument that tantric practices originally developed in a Śaiva milieu and was later adopted by Buddhists. He cites numerous elements that are found in the Śaiva Vidyapitha literature, including whole passages and lists of pithas, that seem to have been directly borrowed by Vajrayana texts. This has been criticized by Ronald M. Davidson however, due to the uncertain date of the Vidyapitha texts. Davidson argues that the pithas seem to have been neither uniquely Buddhist nor Śaiva, but frequented by both groups. He also states that the Śaiva tradition was also involved in the appropriation of local deities and that tantra

may have been influenced by tribal Indian religions and their deities. Samuel writes that "the female divinities may well best be understood in terms of a distinct Śākta milieu from which both Śaivas and Buddhists were borrowing," but that other elements, like the Kapalika style practices, are more clearly derived from a Śaiva tradition.

Samuel writes that the Saiva Tantra tradition appears to have originated as ritual sorcery carried out by hereditary caste groups (kulas) and associated with sex, death and fierce goddesses. The initiation rituals

involved the consumption of the mixed sexual secretions (the clan essence) of a male guru and his consort. These practices were adopted by Kapalika styled ascetics and influenced the early Nath siddhas. Overtime, the more extreme external elements were replaced by internalized yogas that make use of the subtle body. Sexual ritual became a way to reach the liberating wisdom taught in the tradition.

The Buddhists developed their own corpus of Tantras, which also drew on various Mahayana doctrines and practices, as well as on elements of the fierce goddess tradition and also on elements from the Śaiva

traditions (such as deities like Bhairava, which were seen as having been subjugated and converted to Buddhism). Some Buddhist tantras (sometimes called "lower" or "outer" tantras) which are earlier works, do not make use of transgression, sex and fierce deities. These earlier Buddhist tantras mainly reflect a development of Mahayana theory and practice (like deity visualization) and a focus on ritual and purity. Between

the eighth and tenth centuries, new tantras emerged which included fierce deities, kula style sexual initiations, subtle body practices and sexual yoga. The later Buddhist tantras are known as the "inner" or "unsurpassed yoga" (Anuttarayoga or "Yogini") tantras. According to Samuel, it seems that these sexual practices were not initially practiced by Buddhist monastics and instead developed outside of the monastic establishments among traveling siddhas.

Tantric practices also included secret initiation ceremonies in which individuals would enter the tantric family (kula) and receive the secret mantras of the tantric deities. These initiations included the consumption of the sexual substances (semen and female sexual secretions) produced through ritual sex between the guru and his consort. These substances were seen as spiritually powerful and were also used as offerings for tantric deities. For both Śaivas and Buddhists, tantric practices often took place at important sacred sites (pithas) associated with fierce goddesses. Samuel writes that "we do not have a clear

picture of how this network of pilgrimage sites arose." Whatever the case, it seems that it was in these ritual spaces visited by both Buddhists and Śaivas that the practice of Kaula and Anuttarayoga Tantra developed during the eighth and ninth centuries. Besides the practices outlined above, these sites also saw the practice of animal sacrifice as blood offerings to Śākta goddesses like Kamakhya. This practice is mentioned in Śākta texts like the Kālikāpurāṇa and the Yoginītantra. In some of these sites, such as Kamakhya Pitha, animal sacrifice is still widely practiced by Śāktas.

Another key and innovative feature of medieval tantric systems was the development of internal yogas based on elements of the subtle body (sūkṣma śarīra). This subtle anatomy held that there were channels in the body (nadis) through which certain substances or energies (such as vayupranakundalini, and shakti) flowed. These yogas involved moving these energies through the body to clear out certain knots or blockages (granthi) and to direct the energies to the central channel (avadhuti, sushumna). These yogic practices are also closely related to the practice of sexual yoga, since sexual intercourse was seen as being involved in the stimulation of the flow of these energies. Samuel thinks that these subtle body practices may have been influenced by Chinese Daoist practices.

One of the earliest mentions of sexual yoga practice is in the Buddhist Mahāyānasūtrālamkāra of Asanga (c. 5th century), which states "Supreme self-control is achieved in the reversal of sexual intercourse in the blissful Buddha-poise and the untrammelled vision of one's spouse." According to David Snellgrove, the text's mention of a 'reversal of sexual intercourse' might indicate the practice of withholding ejaculation. Snellgrove states that it is possible that sexual yoga was already being practiced in Buddhist circles at this time, and that Asanga saw it as a valid practice. Likewise, Samuel thinks that there is a possibility that sexual yoga existed in the fourth or fifth centuries (though not in the same transgressive tantric contexts where it was later practiced).

It is only in the seventh and eighth centuries however that we find substantial evidence for these sexual yogas. Unlike previous Upanishadic sexual rituals however, which seem to have been associated with Vedic sacrifice and mundane ends like childbirth, these sexual yogas were associated with the movement of subtle body energies (like Kundalini and Chandali, which were also seen as goddesses), and also with spiritual

ends. These practices seemed to have developed at around the same time in both Saiva and Buddhist circles, and are associated with figures such as TirumülarGorakhnathVirupaNaropa. The tantric mahasiddhas developed yogic systems with subtle body and sexual elements which could lead to magical powers (siddhis), immortality, as well as spiritual liberation (moksha, nirvana). Sexual yoga was seen as one way of producing a blissful expansion of consciousness that could lead to liberation.

According to Jacob Dalton, ritualized sexual yoga (along with the sexual elements of the tantric initiation ritual, like the consumption of sexual fluids) first appears in Buddhist works called Mahayoga tantras (which include the Guhyagarbha and Ghu´hyasamaja).  These texts "focused on the body's interior, on the anatomical details of the male and female sexual organs and the pleasure generated through sexual union." In these texts, sexual energy was also seen as a powerful force that could be harnessed for spiritual practice and according to Samuel "perhaps create the state of bliss and loss of personal identity which is

homologised with liberating insight." These sexual yogas continued to develop further into more complex systems which are found in texts dating from about the ninth or tenth century, including the Saiva [[Kaulajñānanirṇaya and Kubjikātantra as well as the Buddhist Hevajra, and Cakrasamvara tantras which make use of charnel ground symbolism and fierce goddesses. Samuel writes that these later texts also combine the sexual yoga with a system of controlling the energies of the subtle body.

Tantricism of the Kbal Spean?

bal Spean  ("Bridge Head") is an Angkorian era archaeological site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills to the northeast of Angkor in Banteay srei, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. It is situated along a 150m stretch of the Stung Kbal Spean River, 25 kilometres (16 mi) from the main Angkor group of monuments, which lie downstream. The site consists of a series of stone rock relief carvings in sandstone formations of the river bed and banks. It is commonly known as the "Valley of a 1000 Lingas" or "The River of a Thousand Lingas". The motifs

for stone carvings are mainly myriads of lingams (phallic symbol of Hindu god Shiva), depicted as neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of a sandstone bed rock, and lingam-yoni designs. There are also various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of the gods ShivaVishnuBrahmaLakshmiRama, and Hanuman, as well as animals (cows and frogs).

Kbal Spean is described as "a spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor".The river over which the bridge head exists is also known as Stung Kbal Spean, a tributary of the Siem Reap River that rises in the Kulein mountains north of Banteay Srei. The river bed cuts through sandstone formations, and the many architectural sculptures of Hindu mythology

have been carved within the sandstone. The archaeological site occurs in a stretch of the river starting from 150 metres (490 ft) upstream north of the bridge head to the falls downstream.[1] The river, being sanctified by flowing over the religious sculptures, flows downstream, bifurcating into the Siem Reap River and Puok River, which eventually flows into the Tonlé Sap Lake after passing through the plains and the Angkor temple complex.

The archaeological site is in the western part of the Kulein mountains within the Phnom Kulen National Park. Approach is from the Banteay Srei temple by a road which is about 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from an army camp. Thereafter, it is a 40-minute walk through the forest for about 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) uphill along a path before reaching the first site, a water fall, where the carved sculptures start appearing in the river bed.

The carving of vestiges began with the reign of King Suryavarman I and ended with the reign of King Udayadityavarman II; these two kings ruled between the 11th and 12th centuries. The 1,000 lingas, but not other sculptures, are attributed to a minister of Suryavarman I during the 11th century, and these were carved by hermits who lived in the area. Inscriptions at the site testify to the fact that most of the sculpting was done during the reign of Udayadityavarman II. It is also mentioned that King Udayadityavarman II consecrated a golden ling here in 1059 AD.[1][3] It is believed that the Siem Reap River flowing into Angkor is blessed by the sacred lingas over which it flows.

The archaeological site was discovered in 1969 by Jean Boulbet, an ethnologist, but further exploration was cut off due to the Cambodian Civil War. The site regained prominence for safe visits from 1989.[

Sahasralingas or 1000 lingas in the rocky bed of Kbal Spean River. Right: A grid pattern layout with the channel flowing out representing Yoni The bridge is a natural sandstone arch 50 kilometres (31 mi) northeast of Siem Reap River. Just after the monsoon season, when the water level in the river starts dropping, the carvings are visible in a 150 metres (490 ft) stretch upstream of the bridge and from the bridge downstream up to the falls. The 11th century carvings in this stretch of the river are a galaxy of gods,

the trinity of BrahmaVishnu and Shiva or Maheswara and celestial beings; several carvings of Vishnu with Lakshmi reclining on the serpent Ananta, Shiva with consort Uma, known as Umamaheswar Brahma on a lotus petal over a plant stem rising from the navel of VishnuRama and Hanuman are the sculptures seen not only in the river bed but also on the river banks.

Sequentially, while walking along a path which skirts the eroded channel of the river-formed natural stone bridge, one can see a pair of Vishnu sculptures with Lakshmi seated at his feet in a reclining pose.

Upstream of the bridge, there is a sculpture of Shiva and Uma mounted on the bull. Approximately 30 metres (98 ft) downstream of the bridge, there are additional Vishnu sculptures. Further downstream up to the water fall and till the water pool are the Sahasra lingas in Sanskrit language with English equivalent name of "Thousand Lingas".[1] The sculpted lingams in the coarse sandstone river bed outcrops are seen from

about 6 metres (20 ft) downstream of the bridge. According to the journalist Teppo Tukki of Phnom Penh Post who visited the site in 1995, the lingams, some of which date back to the 9th century, are about 25 centimetres (9.8 in) square and 10 centimetres (3.9 in) deep and lined in a perfect grid pattern. The river runs over them, covering them with 5 centimetres (2.0 in) of pristine water. The holy objects are designed to create a "power path for the Khmer Kings".

After the carvings, the river falls by 15 centimetres (5.9 in) to a clear water pool. As it flows over the holy lingams, the river attains a sanctified status and passes through the temples that are downstream.[5] The visible lingams are in a rectangular enclosure with a channel flowing out, which is interpreted to represent the yoni as the "female principle". Beyond these lingams, the river stretch of about 40–50 metres (130–160 ft) includes a small rocky island and ends over a fall into a pool. In this stretch of the river, there are bas reliefs on the rock faces. It has been inferred that one of the bas reliefs in this stretch,

the central figure, unrecognizably damaged, could be that of Shiva as an ascetic, similar to the bas relief seen in Angkor Wat temple. The meaning of the crocodile carving seen here has not been ascertained. Near to this location, a boulder has been carved as a frog. The pond, in a rectangular shape, filled with water at all times, has many "Reclining Vishnu" carvings on the walls, and here again, a pair of crocodiles are carved but with their tail held by women. The small island formed in this stretch of the river has carvings of Shiva and Uma mounted on a bull.

Lord Vishnu in a reclining repose lying on the serpent god Ananta, with Goddess Lakshmi at his feet and Lord Brahma on a lotus petal, in Kbal Spean River bank

The sculptures carved in the river bed and banks depict many Hindu mythological scenes and symbols. There are also inscriptions which get exposed as the water level in the river decreases. The common theme of these sculptures emphasizes creation as defined in Hindu mythology in the form of Lord Vishnu lying on a serpent in a reclining repose on the ocean of milk in meditation, the lotus flower emerging from Vishnu’s navel

which bears god Brahma, the creator. Following these sculptures seen carved on the banks of the river, the river flows through several sculpted reliefs of Shiva the destroyer shown in the universal symbol of the Linga; 1000 such lingas have been carved in the bed of the river which gives the name to the river valley formed by the river as "valley of 1000 lingas".  Vishnu is also carved to match the contours of the river bed and banks. A carving of Shiva with his consort Uma is also visible.

Though the sculptures have been vandalized and damaged, the carved idols still retain their original grandeur. Under the supervision of archaeologists, the graduates of Artisans d'Angkor have been able to reproduce some portions of Kbal Spean's missing bas-relief carvings.

Preah Kahn

Preah Khan, one of the temples in Cambodia, was built by King Jayavarman VII in the twelfth century and attracts followers of both Hinduism and Buddhism. The name Preah Khan translates to Holy Sword. The temple was dedicated to about a hundred gods and served as a venue for eighteen grand festivals.

Apart from being a holy place, this place was also a university teaching element of Buddhist, Vaishnava, and Shiva worship which can be glimpsed while visiting the galleries and the two libraries inside the large complex. Visitors feel awed while exploring the Prasat Preah Stung, a central tower with 4 ornate Bayon-like carvings.

Pre Rup is one of the Cambodia temples which was built in the 9th century to serve as the king’s state temple. This Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is entirely made of brick and grey.sandstone.

The temple is also associated with funerary rituals. Though a major part of the temple has been ruined over the years, its extrinsic carvings can still be viewed on some of the towers, especially on the South-west side. The temple attracts visitors especially during the sunrise or the sunset for its spectacular view.

The final squared pyramid, measuring 50 m at its base, rises in three steep tiers a dozen metres in height to a 35 m square platform at the summit. The lowest tier is symmetrically surrounded by 12 small shrines. At the top, five towers are arranged in a quincunx, one at each corner of the square and one in the center. Deities carved as bas-reliefs stand guard at either side of the central tower's eastern door; its other doors are false doors. The southwest tower once contained a statue of Lakshmi, the northwest tower a statue of Uma, the southeast tower a statue of Vishnu and the northeast tower a statue of Shiva. The last one has an inscription on doorjambs that dates from Jayavarman VI and is the only proof of his reign at Angkor.