This week, Cambodia officially asked India to halt plans to erect a temple over fears that it would violate the Angkor Wat’s World Heritage status.
A private trust in India is planning to build a Hindu temple, known as the ‘Viraat Ramayan Mandir’. It is “inspired from a number of temples worldwide”, according to India’s Cambodia Ambassador Dinesh K Patnaik.
However, authorities in Cambodia believe that it will be taking too much inspiration from the original and that its “commercial benefit seriously violates the World Heritage”, as reported here.
Land has yet to be acquired for the temple to be built on, but the plans are gaining pace, with the temple predicted to be ready within the next three years. The diplomatic issues with Cambodia, however, may mean that the new temple will need to be redesigned entirely.
‘World’s largest’ status under threat
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat is currently one of the world’s most unique attractions. The temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If this new temple in India is built, Angkor Wat will lose its status as the world’s largest religious monument.
Although Angkor Wat needs to be seen in person for any real appreciation of the scale of the complex and detail of its architecture, there are some notable features of the temple that you can read up on before visiting during your Mekong cruise in Asia.
The temple is one of the world’s best examples of Khmer architecture, which includes the use of sandstone. When it was constructed at the beginning of the 12th century, only religious buildings could be made of stone, which is why the wooden private dwellings from this time have not survived. There is typically a central sanctuary that was considered to be the home of the most important deity of the temple, which was Vishnu in the case of Angkor Wat. There are also towers shaped like lotus buds and a number of intricate decorative elements, such as bas-reliefs from famous Hindu epics.
Image Credit: Steve Cornish (flickr.com)
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