Pre Rup Temple
Pre Rup is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction.
The temple’s name is a comparatively modern one meaning “turn the body”. This reflects the common belief among Cambodians that funerals were conducted at the temple, with the ashes of the body being ritually rotated in different directions as the service progressed.
Some archaeologists believe that the large vat located at the base of the east stairway to the central area was used at cremations.
‘A work of great dignity and impeccable proportions’, wrote Mauize of Prerup in his guidebook which came out in 1963. Pre Rup is located at northeast of Srah Srang and 500 meters (1,640 feet) south of the south end of the East Baray. An entrance and exit the monument from the east entrance. To climb to the upper terrace use the east stairway; it is slightly less steep than the others.
Tip: Because the temple is built entirely of brick and laterite, the warm tones of these materials are best are seen early in the morning or when the sun is setting.
There are two views from the top terrace: the first looking east towards Phnom Bok and the mountain chain of Phnom Kulen; and the second looking west where the towers of Angkor Wat can be distinguished on the far horizon.
The boldness of the architectural design of Pre Rup is superb and give the temple fine balance, scale and proportion. The temple is almost identical in style to the East Mebon, although it was built several yeas later. It is the last real ‘temple-mountain‘. Pre Rup was called the ‘City of the East‘ by Philippe Stern, a Frenchman who previously worked on the site.
Pre Rup is aligned on a northsouth axis with the East Mebon temple, which is located on what was an artificial island in the baray. The East Mebon was also a creation of the reign of Rajendravarman. Pre Rup’s extensive laterite and brick give it a pleasing reddish tone that is heightened by early morning and late afternoon sunlight. The temple has a square lay-out and two perimeter walls. The outer enclosure is a platform bounded by a laterite wall, 117 meters N-S by 127 meters E-W. A laterite causeway gives entry from the east; unfortunately, a modern road cuts across it.
The four external gopuras are cross-shaped, having a central brick section (consisting of three rooms flanked by two independent passageways), and a sandstone vestibule on both sides. To either side inside the eastern gate is a group of three towers aligned north to south.
One of the towers appears to have never been built or to have been dismantled later, however they are later additions, probably by Jayavarman V. Further ahead, through another gate, libraries lie to either side of the walkway on the second platform. Just before the entrance there is a stone “cistern”, but scholars believe it was a basement for a Nandi bronze statue rather than being used for some of their cremation ceremonies.
There is also a series of long distinct galleries running along each side, a distinctive feature of 10th century archi-
tecture that would be substituted by a continuous gallery from Ta Keo onward.
On the left and right sides of the east entry tower of the second enclosure there are libraries with high towers. They sheltered carved stones with motifs of the nine planets and the seven ascetics. In the center there is a vat between two rows of sandstone pillars. Glaize suggested that this might have been, rather than a sarcophagus, a base for a wooden building or for a statue of Nandi, the sacred bull, the mount of Siva to whom the temple was dedicated long ago.
The final squared pyramid, measuring 50 m at its base, rises in three steep tiers a dozen metres in height to a 35 m square platform at the summit. The lowest tier is symmetrically surrounded by 12 small shrines. At the top, five towers are arranged in a quincunx, one at each corner of the square and
one in the center. Deities carved as bas-reliefs stand guard at either side of the central tower’s eastern door. All of the other doors are false.
The southwest tower once contained a statue of Lakshmi, the northwest tower a statue of Uma, the southeast tower a statue of Vishnu and the northeast tower a statue of Shiva. The last one has an inscription on doorjambs that dates from Jayavarman VI and is the only proof of his reign at Angkor. History Pre Rup was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and it is probably located on a former shivaite ashram, built by Yasovarman I in the previous century. Perhaps it was standing at the centre of a new capital city built by Rajendravarman, with the southern dike of East Baray as northern city limit, but nothing of the dwellings survived and this “eastern city hypothesis” by Philippe Stern was never confirmed by archeologists.
Stairs leading up the front of Pre Rup
Aerial view of Pre Rup
One of the large walls
Pre Rup at Sunset
Looking down on the Temple
Looking down from the top
Young girl selling her goods