Neak Pean
Posted 22 January 2024

(Photos by: Apsara National Authority)

Neak Pean: The Healing Waters of Angkor

Neak Pean, an ancient temple of healing and tranquility, stands uniquely amidst the Angkor Archaeological Park. This small yet remarkable temple, built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, is a symbolic representation of the mythical Himalayan lake, Anavatapta.

The name Neak Pean, which means 'entwined serpents', derives from the coiled serpents that encircle the base of the central sanctuary. This temple was designed as a Buddhist pilgrimage site, with the central structure situated on a circular artificial island surrounded by a large square water reservoir. This water, considered sacred, was believed to have healing properties, making Neak Pean a destination for ancient pilgrims seeking physical and spiritual healing.

The central sanctuary, accessible by a wooden walkway, features a statue of the horse Balaha, a form of Avalokiteshvara, preventing sailors from drowning. The intricate carvings and bas-reliefs on the temple walls depict various Hindu and Buddhist mythologies, symbolizing the harmonious coexistence of different religious beliefs during the Khmer Empire.

Neak Pean's unique design reflects the Khmer's advanced understanding of hydraulics, as the temple's pools were fed by the waters of the nearby Baray. The serene setting, with its reflective waters and lush surroundings, offers a respite from the more crowded temples of Angkor.

Visitors to Neak Pean are rewarded with a profound sense of peace and a glimpse into the spiritual and medicinal practices of ancient Cambodia. The temple's architectural ingenuity and spiritual significance make it a must-visit for those exploring the mysteries of the Angkor temples.

Major Sight Spots in Neak Pean

Central Sanctuary: The main temple with the statue of Balaha.

Surrounding Pools: Four connected pools symbolizing the four great rivers of Hindu mythology.

Walkway to Temple: A scenic wooden walkway across the water.

Carvings and Bas-reliefs: Intricate artwork depicting various mythological scenes.

Serene Water Reservoir: The large water body surrounding the temple, offers a peaceful ambiance.


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