19. Ruins at Koh Ker, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Banteay Srei and Ta Prohm are among the best known and visited Khmer temples in Cambodia. Koh Ker is less known, more remote but a 7-tiered stupa. It was a temple built by King Jayavarman IV, and was the Khmer capital from 928-942 CE. This temple was dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva in the form of Treypuvanesvara , the God of Happiness.

Within the Koh Ker temple complex I met these endearing children playing around a magnificent sculpture of Shiva. They were from the nearby village of Sra Yong is a few kilometres away. Their mothers had come this way to collect sticks for firewood. I worried about uncleared landmines and snakes but was told by the guide that the children knew the sites of the landmines and were always wary about snakes. I was remained concerned as I had seen so many young children and teenagers in Siam Reap who had lost limbs due to horrific land mine blasts from mines still uncleared and dotted over fields and forests of Cambodia left by the terrible Khmer Rouge.

Here I found stele with Sanskrit inscriptions in a stylised ancient Tamil –Brahmi script. This script had been taken by the Pallava and later Chola kings from the east coast of Tamil Nadu, India. These dynasties who were world famous seafarers had conquered countries in South-East Asia including Thailand, parts of Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos and Cambodia. Hindu culture, intermarriages with the Khmer royal families as well widespread dissemination of the religion were recorded both in Southern Indian and in Khmer inscriptions.




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