Monday, 16 April 2012

N: Neak Pean

Neak Pean temple, on a circular island in the centre of Preah Khan Baray. This very small temple was constructed by King Jayavarman VII, who ruled Cambodia towards the end of the 12th century.

The water surrounding the temple was constructed to provide its support workers with plenty water. The Neak Pean was built as a reservoir, east of Preah Khan. The reservoir was large enough to supply water to irrigate the rice fields during the dry season.  The water went into the first main pool, then it was broken into four smaller pools, finally a further eight pools. The island  was in the centre with a single tower made of sandstone. The reason for building this temple was unknown. Khmer kings, however were known to place islands within Lakes (Barays).  It has been suggested that Neak Pean represents a shrine commonly placed on an island at the centre of a Baray.

It is said that Neak Pean represents a mythical lake in the Himalayas, where waters were thought to cure all illness. Descriptions of Anavatapta include references to four surrounding springs spewing forth from the mouths of a lion, an elephant, a horse, or an ox. This closely corresponds to Neak Pean—its central pond drains into the four surrounding pools through gargoyles shaped like a lion, an elephant, a horse, and a man. It is uncertain whether one gargoyle is a man or an ox.

The shrine has the head of a flaring serpent and its head is similar to a lambshead. There are two serpents and they are brothers. Each has its own name which is Nanda and Upananda. Both of these brothers live in the mythical lake Anatapta, This name is given for the main pool which is close to Mt. Meru. These two serpent brothers are responsible for making it rain.  The rain fills the main lake and then pours into the four  rivers of the world. This is symbolised by the four smaller pools. Then a further eight pools Between the heads of the two serpents is a horse with men hanging onto it. This symbolises the Balaha,  spirit of the Buddha Avalokitashvara who he rescues men from wrecks in the Indian Ocean.

It was believed that pilgrims used the dark chamber to stand in, believing their sins would be washed away by the water pouring through the chamber into the smaller pools. They would pour water into the sphinx from the main pool. This would then feed into another pool.

There are several headed serpent's also known as Nagas, around the outside of the shrine. Originally the shrine had four entrances but three of them have been closed and the access was by the south entrance representing Avalokiteshvara. There were stone lions and triple headed elephants in each corner  of the shrine.

Neofelis nebulosa (Clouded Leopard) Red listed Endangered

This particular endangered species is a nocturnal cat which lives most of it's life up in the tree tops. It prefers to stay hidden and it is near impossible to get photographs of this beautifully marked cat. The clouded leopard seeks solitude and its history is unknown.  The presence of this beautiful carnivore has only been confirmed by camera traps in Mondulkiri province in Cambodia. Like most large cats, the clouded leopard is under threat due to hunting for the wildlife trade.


  1. Sounds like a magical place. Thank you for sharing!

  2. Interesting facts--one about a past civilization we'll probably never understand and the other about a wild cat humanity is destroying. How sad. I can't prevent man's folly. Only in my heart-felt prayer. Blog on!

  3. It does sound magical, doesn't it.
    Thanks for your comments.

  4. It is always interesting to read about these historic periods!

    Thanks for your kind words. Very nice to meet you.

  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    1. Hi Hilary, I am so sorry,

      I have a very bad tremor in my hands and whilst reading your comment my hand shook and hit the delete button by mistake and it has removed your comment on Neak Pean. I feel so bad, I am so sorry!