West Mebon / West Baray (EN)

West Mebon / West Baray (EN)

The Western Mebon is a partially preserved Hindu temple in Angkor. It is located on an artificial island in the Western Baray, a water reservoir of the Angkor period, which is not far from Angkor Thom. The construction of the Western Baray in the 11th century was started under the reign of Suryavarman I and finally finished under the reign of his successor Udayadityavarman II. The Western Mebon was also built in the Baphuon style at the same time under Udayadityavarman II.

Mebon im West Baray

Excavation Site of the Temple Ruins (Mebon) in the West Baray

The temple complex began to fall into disrepair after its high period beginning in the 15th century and was not rediscovered until 1936 by a French explorer who found an exceptionally impressive bronze statue of Vishnu Anantashayi there during an expedition, which brought increased attention to the temple again. In the 1940s, the first restoration work was carried out, as the temple was (and still is) in a very poor condition. For this reason, the Western Mebon can not be visited at the moment, because there are again several years of restoration work. Otherwise, the temple can only be reached by boat.

The Western Baray, however, is a popular meeting place for rowers and swimmers due to its calm water surface and clear water, so a visit to the two sights should still pay off. The western half carries water year-round, the eastern half only during the rainy season.

West Baray after the rainy season

Even though the overall design of the West Baray is man-made, it is the dikes that the earth had naturally formed that store the water. Even before the construction of the Baray, there were previous dikes in its place, as the natural features of the soil had long made this region known as a favorable place for its water absorbing and storing properties. However, even though the Western Mebon cannot be visited at the moment, it does not hurt to know a little about its structural features. Thus, the temple consists of a ring of walls and three gopuras: inside there is a water basin, which is surrounded all around by stairs made of sandstone – not far from the sandstone terrace, where there is a fountain. The former, probably very artistic reliefs of the temple complex are unfortunately completely destroyed today. On a gopura of the northern wall one can still find a reasonably well preserved ornament. On the gopura of the eastern side also some reliefs can still be seen, whereby here three figures can be seen. It now remains to be seen how much may be restored by the current restoration work.

Boat trip on the West Baray towards Mebon

Small dam on the West Baray