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Neak Pean Temple

Neak Pean Temple

  • Travel Location Siem Reap
  • Neak Pean at Angkor, Cambodia is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. It is the "Mebon" of the Preah Khan ...

OVERVIEW

A small island temple located in the middle of the last baray to be constructed by a Khmer king in the Angkor area (Preah Khan Baray or Jayatataka). The central temple sits at the axis of a cross or lotus pattern of eight pools. Originally known as Rajasri, Neak Pean took its modern appellation, which means ‘coiled serpents,’ from the encoiled nagas that encircled the temple. The temple is faced by a statue of the horse, Balaha, saving drowning sailors. Though originally dedicated to Buddha, Neak Pean contains several Hindu images. Neak Pean may have served an absolution function, and the waters were thought to have healing properties. During the dry season when the water is low, check out the animal and human headwater spouts at the outside center of each pool. Neak Pean is most photogenic in the wet season when the pools are full.

Video Travel Inspiration

Neak Pean or Neak Poan at Angkor, Cambodia is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. 389 It is the "Mebon" of the Preah Khan baray (the "Jayatataka" of the inscription).

Etymology of Neak Pean temple

Some historians believe that Neak Pean represents Anavatapta,174 a mythical lake in the Himalayas whose waters are thought to cure all illness.124–125 The name is derived from the sculptures of snakes (Nāga) running around the base of the temple structure, neak being the Khmer rendering of the Sanskrit naga. "They are Nanda and Upananda, two nagas traditionally associated with Lake Anavatapta."

History of Neak Pean Temple

Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent Water, Earth, Fire and Wind. Each is connected to the central water source, the main tank, by a stone conduit "presided over by one of Four Great Animals (maha ajaneya pasu) namely Elephant, Bull, Horse, and Lion, corresponding to the north, east, south, and west quarters....The stone conduits in the little pavilions are fashioned to represent the heads of the Four Great Animals...the only exception being that on the east, which represents a human head instead of a bull's." Originally, four sculptures stood on the floor of the lake. The only remaining statue is that of the horse Balaha, a form of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, saving sailors from the ogresses of Tamradvipa. The temple on the lake was originally dedicated to Avalokitesvara. Willetts believed that "this is Jayavarman as he would have wished to have appeared to his people"

Zhou Daguan refers to Neak Pean in his visit to Angkor in the late 13th century.

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