Friday, February 27, 2009

The final Chrung...and relax

The southwest Prasat Chrung, the final one of the four corner shrines on my cycle ride; this is the west false entrance.
My recent bicycle ride along the embankment walls of the ancient city of Angkor Thom seems to have been taking place for weeks, whilst in actual fact it took a little less than four hours and that included stopping to visit and photograph five monumental gates into the city, four corner shrines that few ever get to visit and negotiating a few breaks in the wall as well as meeting up with a group of five twenty-something Khmers, who were out for a picnic, on their bikes, as they reminded me that the day of my trip was a Buddhist holiday. They shared their water, as mine had run out and they offered to share their food as we chatted about life in general and about work - they worked for ANZ Bank - and so my 30+ years in British banking aroused their interest. Nice folks and it was good to chat having spent the previous three and half hours on my solitary ride. We met at the southwest corner Prasat Chrung, which translates as 'temple of the angle,' after my five minute cycle from the West Gate, parallel with the water-filled moat. This shrine is the most visited of the four corner temples as the access from the popular South Gate is straightforward. The prasat itself is similar to the others though its west door is false and it only opens to the east. The devata are here in numbers though they are small in size, the windows have half-blinds as in the other shrines but the only pediment carving I could find was on the ground and the Buddha image had been remodelled into a linga, a popular pasttime in the 13th century. I thought the temple might be a pleasant place to visit to experence a quiet sunset across the moat sometime in the future. After our chat, they cycled off to enjoy their picnic near the West Gate, while I stopped at a cutting in the forest which took me to an ancient laterite bridge and a nearby large pond. The bridge is Run Tadev and the pond Beng Thom and both acted as a way of letting out water from the city and into the moat. Then it was back to the South Gate, descending from the wall for the last time and cycling back to my hotel for some food and a well-earned shower. My cycle ride of around 13 kilometres was definitely an enjoyable way to see parts of Angkor Thom I'd never seen before, to get a different persepctive of the walled city and a way to enjoy a part of Angkor without the crowds. For the last four hours Angkor Thom had been mine, and mine alone and that gave me a great deal of satisfaction. I hope you've enjoyed the journey too. Try it sometime.
The pleasant cycle path from the West Gate heading to the southwest corner
The best devata on show at the southwest Prasat Chrung
This is Prasat Chrung from the south side, with its false door
The all next to this devata looks decidely unsteady
This pediment has a defaced Buddha, converted into a linga and lies on the ground, protected by red ants
A devata on the north face of the corner shrine
This devata is playing hide and seek with a tree growing next to the temple
The east entrance to Prasat Chrung is now supported by wooden beams. The stones in the foreground were part of a small shrine or gate to the east.

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