- Moorish Proverb
Neak Pean Temple in Cambodia, is the most unconventional of the Angkor Temples , a unique island-temple in the middle of the Jayatataka or Northern Baray which is at the same time surrounded by other 4 smaller square ponds. The articial island consists of a set of circular steps above which the shrine dedicated to Avalokiteshvara rests. Originally, Neak Pean could only be reached by boat. Two Nagas or serpents encircle the base of the island, giving the temple its actual name, which means "coiled serpents". Neak Pean Temple highlights include the three dimensional horse scuplture in the main pond, swimming towards east with figures depicted to its sides.
Neak Peak can be reached either through Bayon at a distance of 16.4km or through Srah Srang at a distance of 18.9km. To travel from Siem Reap town center take Sivatha Road and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn right, and continue past Srah Srang, turning right along the north edge of the reservoir, until you reach Pre Rup as the road truns North again. Continue along this road 3 km past East mebon. The last part of the road to the temple cannot be accessed by vehicles and you will have to walk the last 500 meters through an indicated lane to the left of the main road. The optimal season to visit Neak Pean Temple is in the wet season when the pools are full. A Neak Pean temple plan can be useful for orientation.
Neak Pean was built on the second half of the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII. It seems that the main pond was attributed curative powers by the Angkor inhabitants and it was possibly used as a pilgrimage place where people would come and bath in order to be healed both physically and symbolically. One of the theories maintains that the pond may be a replica of the Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, a mythical lake at the top of the universe that is source to the four great rivers of the earth.
"On an artificial island in the centre (of the Jayatataka Baray or "Pool of Jayavarman"), was the little temple of Rajasri, now known as Neak Pean, one of the most unique and beautiful designs of all Khmer architecture. A little temple, only four metres square, with four lotus stories and a little crown. This little gem of a sanctuary rose out of a sacred lotus, which seemed to float on the surface of the basin".
"Don't miss this symbolic spot at Angkor. Many locals still believe in the curative powers of the pond and following a tradition that has survived over the centuries, they still come and collect medicinal herbs for their own use."
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