23 April 2012

Pre Rup - The temple I like the most

Pre Rup in the morning light
"The temple I like the most", is what my tour guide said when we came to Pre Rup in the morning of a tour and I asked him what his favourite temple in Angkor was. He liked it for the colours, he said. My second tour guide, which I enjoyed for two other tours, actually had a very different taste and I will mention it when I do that post later.

East Mebon temple in the distance
It was good that we came really early because the sunlight on the temple was just awesome, bringing out the temple's brick and laterite stones in a warm red-orange colour tone with a beautiful dark blue sky behind it. The lush green of all the trees around the temple added another flavour to it.

Pre Rup is the answer to all the craze and noise you will experience at the more touristy sites like Angkor Wat and the Bayon. It can get busy here too but it was quiet as we climbed up the steep stairs and we had this pyramid-temple all to ourselves. 

Steep staircase leading to the top

This tenth century Hindu temple is often passed-by by visitors on their way to other sites yet it is far too beautiful to be left behind on the travel itiniary. Especially the view from the top platform should not be missed. We saw distant temples hidden in the trees and it gets one the feeling of the sheer size of the Angkorean temple sites. 

There were a few lintels which we admired and the seated guardian lions overlooking the towers and walls below. And there are several Buddha images, old and new, in some of the towers, though this was initially a Hindu temple. 

Lintel above the doorway
My guide got a bit uneasy with a female tourist who climbed up to the top and into the central sanctuary being very lightly dressed and he explained to me how even Asians from other countries can be very insensitive towards proper clothing within a temple. She must have overheard our conversation, as she pulled a shawl out of her backpack and covered her shoulders and back with it...unless...the gods told her about it! 

Lions overlooking the lower levels

Tourism hit us hard on the way down from this heavenly platform with an entire bus load of Chinese tourists who were swarming over the lower level of the temple like an ants nest. But like in many of these places, it is like a storm which comes and goes quickly. Most of them were not even willing to climb up the steep stairs. They just took a quick group photo and were back on the bus within minutes. 

Shrine with Buddha images
Pre Rup is very close to the Royal Bath "Sra Srang" and other temples like the East Mebon and some of the hidden smaller temples which we visited on other days. 

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