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The Vat Phou

05/07/2019 654 Views


The site of Vat Phu is registered with the world inheritance of the Humanity by UNESCO.

The religious ensemble of Wat Phu, Khmer architecture and Hindu religion, is located at the foot of a mountain whose culminating point, the Phou Kao, draws particular attention by its form, identified in antiquity with a Linga, phallic symbol of Shiva, hence its ancient name of Lingaparvata, and its reputation of sacred mountain. The presence of a permanent spring, at the foot of one of the cliffs, has probably prompted the ancient kings of the region to install a shivaite shrine there. Associated with this religious group is in the plain, on the banks of the Mekong, a pre-Angkorian town whose remains (raw earthen walls, many brick monuments) are currently barely visible on the ground, although they appear very well on aerial photographs. Since 1991, the first excavations were conducted by P.R.A.L. (Research Project in Lao Archeology), which has established a precise archaeological map. Listed as World Heritage of Humanity. The cultural landscape of Champassak, including the entire temple of Wat Phu, is a planned landscape area more than a thousand years old and remarkably well preserved. In order to express the Hindu conception of the relationship between nature and man, it has been shaped along an axis between the summit of the mountain and the banks of the river in a geometric intertwining of temples, shrines and hydraulic structures. stretching for about 10 km. The site also includes two ancient cities, built on the banks of the Mekong and the Phou Kao mountain, the ensemble representing a process of development spanning more than a thousand years, from the 5th to the 15th century, associated mainly with the Khmer empire.

Coming from the plain, we first meet two large barays, artificial lakes with a religious and practical function (they represent the ocean that surrounds the earth and serve as a reservoir), then a sandstone terrace. An alley lined with boundary stones then leads to a vast esplanade facing two buildings (in sandstone and laterite) with beautifully carved pediments from the beginning of the 11th century (Koh Ker period). The function of these quadrangular buildings is still poorly defined today. The traditional name of "palace of men" and "palace of women" is without scientific foundation. From there, an alley once lined with covered galleries leads to the first staircase. On the south side of the path, you can see the remains of a small building (mid-11th century), often called Nandin temple (the sacred bull, Shiva mount). From there, an old elevated road leading to the Nang Sida temple, passes Ban That (three Khmer chapels), 30 km to the south, and continues to Angkor, Cambodia.

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