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Hindu Temples Lost in the Forest: Rediscovering the World Heritage Site of Ishanapura-Sambor Prei Kuk

Hindu Temples Lost in the Forest: Rediscovering the World Heritage Site of Ishanapura-Sambor Prei Kuk

Author:Sachchidanand Sahai
ISBN 13:9789387587304
Subject:Philosophy and Religion/Hinduism

About the Book

The monograph Hindu Temples Lost in the Forest takes the readers on an unanticipated journey in the interiors of the middle Mekong Valley in order to rediscover architectural marvels which one formed integral part of the city of Ishanapura, identified with the ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk in central Cambodia, and listed as UNESCO World Heritage site on Saturday, the 8th July 2017 by the 41st world heritage committee, held at Krakow (Poland). After explaining the trio formed by the God Ishana (Shiva), his protégé King Ishanavarman and his city Ishanapura, the unique aquatic landscape of the site is outlined in which Ishanapura functioned as a water-fort. Over hundred fascinating temples, still standing above the ground in various stages of preservation, on the either side of the O Kru Kae River, the unique Octagonal temples, the flying places carved on the walls of the temples, the architectural motifs such as the beautiful human figures in the ornamental windows (Kudu), the mythical crocodile (makara) the divinized time (Kala) and the beautiful Hamsa birds contribute to the uniqueness of the brick architecture of Ishanapura. Other interesting themes are-the cult of multiple Ishvara (Lord Shiva), the crafting of smile and seriousness on the faces of the Gods and the humans, using the cult of Hari-hara and Hari-Hara-linga as reconciliatory devices and the patronage to the Pashupata Shaiva sect. Durgasvami, an Indian Saka Brahmin, born in Dakshinapatha (Southern India) and settled in Ishanapura, resurrects through the pages of this monograph. The Brahmin married the daughter of King Ishanavarman, and as the royal son-in-law, he contributed to the development of Ishanapura, bringing Indo Saka-Scythian elements to the Khmer capital. Hindu Temples Lost in the Forest is a rare and profound book which describes the contours of Ishanapura as a knowledge seeking city, and as an influential diplomatic hub of Asia, interacting with China through diplomatic mission, with Indian through deep cultural discourse, and with Champa (Central Vietnam) through strategic matrimonial alliance. As the monograph convincingly shows, the rise of Ishanapura marked the passage of mainland Southeast Asia form the state of chiefdom to the status of statehood. This holistic study, presenting the temples of Ishanapura in an art-historical, socio-cultural perspective, is an indispensible companion to every one interested in unraveling the mystery behind the forests of Sambor Prei Kuk. Without listening to these temples, which carry their message in the shape of Sanskrit and or Khmer language inscriptions, the knowledge of both Khmer and Indian civilizations will remain incomplete and the dynamics of Asian civilization will continue to be nebulous.