Bat Chum – In the middle of the Srah Srang

Bat Chum – In the middle of the Srah Srang

Bat Chum is a temple complex in Siem Reap and is located about 400 meters away from the Srah Srang water basin in the northwestern part of Cambodia. The temple itself is relatively small, but reasonably well preserved and certainly an exciting destination for visitors. The complex was commissioned in the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman II.

Srah Srang without water during the reconstruction works 2020/2021

Interestingly, it is partly a Hindu temple, but nevertheless dedicated to the Buddha. Here, the historical transitions in the Khmer Empire between Hinduism and Buddhism are evident. In this respect, the temple complex is also an interesting object of archaeological research, as numerous reliefs and representations of the various mythologies are well preserved here and allow conclusions to be drawn about the culture, beliefs and way of life of the Khmer.
Structurally, it is primarily three towers, which are quite well reconstructed and built of sandstone bricks, which can be visited. Restorations are made here again and again, so that the original architectural style of the temple is still easily recognizable to visitors today.

The three towers are dedicated to the Trinity of Mahayana Buddhism: namely, the Buddha at the center, Avalokiteshvara (as Vajrapani) at the southern tower, and Prajnaparamita at the northern tower.

Besides the towers, there are also numerous statues made of stone. Around the temple there is also a moat. There is also a gopura in the area.

The Buddhist inscriptions provide information about the builder of the complex: the king’s minister named Kavindrarimathana is said to have designed and commissioned the construction as an architect. He is also said to have been responsible for the construction of Srah Srang and Pre Rup.

However, there are also inscriptions with Hindu verses and narratives, which is why the prevailing scholarly opinion is that the temple was still originally Hindu as well.
Bat Chum can be reached directly on foot from the water basin Srah Srang. For this reason, the two sights can be excellently combined in one trip. The temple is usually not overcrowded, but quite well visited (of course much more relaxed than the large temple complexes that are recommended by all travel guides).

The temple was discovered during excavations in 1952 – much later than comparable temples.

Visitors to the region should plan a little time to visit the Bat Chum site. Even though the temple is not particularly large, it is especially its historical significance (the transition from Hinduism to Buddhism can be better understood and culturally classified on the basis of the inscription) that makes it an interesting destination.