Prasat Kravan

Constructed when: 10th century
Constructed by: King Harshavarman I
Religion: Hindu (Vishnu)
Architectural style: Bakheng
Location: 3 kilometers east of Angkor Wat

Prasat Kravan is a small 10th century temple consisting of five reddish brick towers on a common terrace, located at Angkor, Cambodia south of the artificial lake or baray called Srah Srang. Its original Sanskrit name is unknown. The modern name in Khmer, "Prasat Kravan", means cardamom temple. The temple was dedicated to Vishnu in 921 CE, according to inscription on door jambs.

The site was cleaned from vegetation in the Thirties by Henri Marchal and Georges Trouvè. Afterwards the towers were restored on Bernard Philippe Groslier's initiative from 1962 to 1966, adding some new bricks which are marked with a "CA" (meaning "Conservation Angkor").

The temple is oriented to the East and surrounded by a small moat. Its exterior is striking for its classical lines and symmetry, the central and the south tower have superstructures which take advantage of false prospective by simple means of diminishing tiers. The sanctuaries interiors are remarkable for the large bas relief depictions of Vishnu and Lakshmi that have been carved into the walls of reddish brick, connected by a vegetable compound. It's a type of sculptured artwork rather common in Cham temples, but almost unique in known Khmer monuments.

The bas reliefs on the interior walls of the central tower are representations of Vishnu. There are three in all:

* Four-armed Vishnu sits astride his vehicle Garuda and holding his standard appurtenances: the globe, the conch, the discus, and the baton.

* Eight-armed Vishnu stands stiffly in the position of a statue. He is surrounded by hundreds of tiny devotees and surmounted by a crocodile or maybe a lizard. Its significance remains unknown.

* Four-armed Vishnu, again holding his four standard appurtenances, takes a large step. This image illustrates the story of Vishnu in his incarnation as Vamana the dwarf taking three great steps in order to reclaim the world from the asura Bali.

Sculptures of garuda are carved directly out of the brick walls.

The interior walls of the northernmost tower feature a pair of bas reliefs of Lakshmi, Vishnu's consort, flanked by devotees:

* In one of the depictions, the goddess holds both the trident of Shiva and the discus of Vishnu, possibly marking her as the great goddess who transcends the duality of Saiva and Vaishnava worship.

* A more traditional depiction of Lakshmi holding lotuses is on the opposite wall.

Historical information and some descriptions of temple sites are sourced from the Angkor series of Wikipedia articles. This text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The main Wikipedia page on Angkor can be found at -