East Mebon, Pre Rup and Banteay Kdei
East Mebon is a small temple built in the reign of king Rajendravarman, who named the temple ‘Yashodharatataka’ (the reservoir of Yashodhara). King Rajendravarman greatly admired King Yashovarman I, who ruled from 889-900 AD and built the East Baray (reservoir). Out of respect, King Rajendravarman built East Mebon at the center of the baray. Its main god was Rajendreshvara, a linga of the present king.
The temple was dedicated on Friday, January 28, 953 at about 11am. The architect was Kavindrarimathana, whose name survives because he sponsored several temples himself. A thousand years ago, the waters of the East Baray would have lapped around the temple’s foundations, but nowadays it has completely dried up.
Pre Rup was built during the reign of King Rajendravarman and served as the state temple of his capital. Rajendravarman (r. 944-68) was responsible for returning the capital to Angkor following the power struggle that erupted after the death of Jayavarman IV, who ruled at Koh Ker. Initially, Jayavarman’s son Harshavarman II took power but Rajendravarman succeeded him several years later after his death. The site of Pre Rup was located at the south side of the East Baray, which was already in existence in Rajendravarman’s era. The temple may have been founded on the site of a Shivaite ashrama, one of four ashramas built by king Yasovarman I in the previous century.
As the center of the capital, Pre Rup was likely surrounded by a wall in the manner of Angkor Thom several centuries later, though no traces of the wall survive today. Within the temple proper, the outer ‘walls’ are actually a series of eight long galleries (two on each side) with gaps in between. Pre Rup was the last of the temples at Angkor with this feature, as all succeeding temples employed continuous galleries formingunbroken corridors around the perimeter.
Banteay Kdei is a mysterious temple. There is no record of why it was built—or by whom—as no inscriptions have have ever been found at the site. Its name means ‘The citadel of the monks’ cells’, but that does not necessarily indicate its function. What is known is that Banteay Kdei grew by amalgamation from a small site to a large central temple with its own enclosure wall that protected a large city.
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