Baksei Chamkrong – The pyramid temple near Angkor Wat

Baksei Chamkrong – The pyramid temple near Angkor Wat

If you stroll along the path from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom, the beautiful, small pyramid temple Baksei Chamkrong will inevitably catch your eye. The small temple complex, whose name translated into German means something like “bird with protective wings”, is a popular photo motif among tourists due to its beautiful appearance and its location in the middle of greenery.

Baksei Chamkrong

Specifically, Baksei Chamkrong is a four-tiered pyramid, with stairways on each of the four sides. The temple is oriented – as was usual for pyramid temples of the Khmer period – in its orientation to the four different cardinal points. However, the mountain does not simply taper to a point, but at its highest point a tower with four sides is enthroned. The base (and overall the temple itself) is not particularly large: only about 27 meters by 27 meters measures the footprint of the magnificent building.

Built as early as the 10th century, the temple is one of the first Khmer structures to use laterite stone for the base (specifically, for the lower three steps of the pyramid). It was King Harshavarman I who commissioned the temple to be built as an ancestral temple dedicated to the memory of his mother and father. As a Hindu temple complex, it is dedicated to the deity Shiva. The original state of the temple is still comparatively well preserved, but some statuettes and representations are already missing. For example, originally there was a golden statue of Shiva with his wife in the interior of the temple: Where this figure disappeared to, however, can no longer be precisely identified today.
In the eastern door frame there is an inscription, which on the one hand informs about the history of the temple, but on the other hand also gives an insight into the culture and traditions of the Khmer people during the reign of Harshavarman I. The inscription is a very important part of the temple’s history

Specifically, there are exactly 48 song stanzas in Sanskrit that focus on paying homage to the deities. The charitable endowments of some kings are also recorded here. But what makes the temple Baksei Chamkrong so interesting for contemporary historians and archaeologists is the fact that here – for the very first time – the mythical couple Kambu and Mera is reported: The site is a real sensational find of its discoverers.

The special location, but also the beautiful appearance of the temple make it also an interesting sightseeing destination for all those visitors who may not be so much into Hindu mythology. All in all, the site should be a fixed point for all those who are going on an exploration tour between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom anyway.