The Roluos Temples

Roluos Temples Cambodia

Roluos is the previous ancient centre and capital of the Khmer civilization known as Hariharalaya. Approximately seventy years after Jayavarman II established his capital on Mount Kulen in 802, he moved the capital to Haryharalaya, perhaps for a better source of food or for defence purpose.

Jayavarman II died at Roluos in 850 AD. It is generally believed that his successors remained there until the capital was moved to Bakheng in 905AD.

Lolei Temple

Lolei temple is located north of the National Road 6 in the centre of the baray Indratataka, close to a modern Buddhist temple. The temple was built at the end of the 9th century by King Yasovarman I, dedicated to Shiva, in memory of the King’s father.

Lolei is worth a visit just for its exquisite carvings and inscriptions which some consider to be the finest of the Roluos group. To appreciate the setting of this temple you must imagine that the temple was originally located in the centre of the great Baray, the Indratataka. According to an inscription found at the temple. The water in this pond was for use at the capital of Hariharalay and for irrigating the plains in the area.

The Lolei temple, which shows a similarity to Preah Ko, was completed under Yashovarman I. The reservoir surrounding it, Lolei, was built on an artificial island in a Baray or reservoir once called Indratataka, had been started already. Barays are another characteristic and classical feature of the Angkorian era, at the later capital Angkor as well as at other temple towns such as Koh Ker and Banteay Chhmar and Prasat Bakan.

Preah Ko Temple

Preah Ko temple, which translates as sacred bull, is located between Bakong and Lolei temple, on the western site of the road to Bakong, enter and leave the temple from the east. The temple was built late 9th century by King Indravarman I, dedicated to Shiva in Hinduism; funerary temple built of the King’s parents, maternal grandparents, and a previous King, Jayarvarman II and his wife.

Preah Ko temple consists of a group of six towers on one platform. Inscriptions on the door jambs are very detailed and are extremely helpful to understand the function of this temple. Preah Ko was Indravarman’s ancestor temple, male ancestors were worshipped in the three eastern towers or prasats.

Bakong Temple

Bakong Temple is located south of Preah Ko. A modern Buddhist temple occupies the north-east section of the complex. The temple was built late 9th century by King Indravarman I and dedicated to Shiva, one of the Hindu gods.

Bakong was the centre of the town of Hariharalaya, a name derived from the god Hari-Hara, a combination of Shiva and Vishnu. It is a temple-mountain symbolizing Mount Meru, the centre and creator of the world for Buddhists. Four levels leading to the central sanctuary extend the symbolism. They also correspond to  worlds of mythical beings (nagas, garudas, rakasas and yakashas). The fifth and topmost level is reserved for the gods.The levels represent the five cosmic levels of Mount Meru. Bakong was probably the state temple of Indravarman I.

The Bakong temple pyramid in Roluos, was originally surrounded by two moats, only the inner one still exists today. The temple measures 850 meters from east to west and 650 meters north to south. The causeways are flanked by Nagas, these mythological beings are half human and half snake. Nagas typically rail Angkorian causeways and appear here for the first time in Khmer art. Hence, becoming a notable feature  commonly repeated in Khmer civilization through the ages. The inner enclosure contained the central terraced pyramid. This pyramid was surrounded by eight smaller temples that are now mostly in ruins.

Stairways led to the top on all four sides and on each level they are flanked by lion guardians. Elephant sculptures are on the corners of each level which get smaller in size from the bottom to the top. Today’s tower on top of the pyramid is from the later classical Angkorian period, replacing an earlier prasat (temple) that must have been fallen into decay.

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