The unique Prasat Kravan ប្រាសាទក្រវាន់ is located in the east of Angkor Wat (southern route of the small circuit). Bas-reliefs of Vishnu and Lakshmi are rendered into the brick, the only example of brick bas-reliefs in the Angkor area. The reliefs in this tower can be best viewed in the morning when the east light enters the door, in the afternoon they are barely visible. However, the towers are then reflected in the water of the surrounding moat, also a charming photo scene.
Prasat Kravan is a private temple. It was built in the first half of the tenth century (921) not by a king but by a dignitary and was completed during the reign of Harshavarman I.
Origin of the name
Prasat Kravan is the modern name in Khmer and stands for artabotrys odoratissimus temple.
Prasat = temple
Kravan = artabotrys odoratissimus – this is the Latin term for a special type of creeper with fragrant blossoms.
Prasat Kravan can also be translated as “Shrine of Cardamom”, which indicates that the temple was named after a tree that used to stand there.
Architecture of the Prasat Kravan
Prasat Kravan consists of 5 east-facing brick towers. With its 5 storeys, the central tower towers above the others. Surrounded by a small moat, the building is characterised by its symmetry. In contrast to Angkor Wat or Bayon, it is a comparatively small temple that is rarely visited. However, it is well worth a visit, especially in the early hours of the morning when the light of the rising sun shines on the reliefs carved into the bricks.
Access to Prasat Kravan is from the west, the back of the temple. Its full beauty can only be admired from the east side.
The French restored the Hindu temple in the 1930s with a new foundation, interior walls and drains. In the 1960s, the centre and left tower were restored. Some of the broken bricks were replaced with carefully crafted replicas. These are all labelled with the letters “CA” (Conservation Angkor). New research and renovation work is currently underway. The G.A.C.P. (German Apsara Conservation Project) is supporting this project.
Unique bas-reliefs at Prasat Kravan
The bas-reliefs on the interior walls of the central tower represent Vishnu in different positions and forms.
- Four-armed Vishnu – with four arms and the standard equipment, a version which illustrates the story of Vishnu in his personification of Vamana. The dwarf took three great steps in order to span the whole universe and to cover the gods who are in control of the world.
- Eight-armed Vishnu – stands strictly in a position of a statue, framed by six registers of people and surmounted by a giant lizard. It’s likely that the sculpture used to be very colorful.
- Four-armed Vishnu – sits astride on his vehicle Garuda (large bird-like creature) and holds his standard equipment: Globe, discus, conch and baton.
Rare photos from the inside
The entrance to the central tower of Prasat Kravan is normally closed. Luckily for me, it was early in the morning and the entry was open. So I was able to take photos inside. The tower is open at the ceiling, with the described depiction of Vishnu on 3 of the 4 walls. The brick reliefs are unique. Nowhere else are they to be found in an Angkorian temple.
Here are some more photos from inside, showing Sanskrit inscriptions. Recently I discovered the first photo in my collection on the subject of the Khmer language. I was no longer sure whether it belonged to Prasat Kravan. After further research in my photo collection, it turned out to be exactly this temple.
The walls of the right-hand tower are also uniquely decorated. They depict Lakshmi, the wife of Vishnu. In her hands she holds Vishnu’s discus and Shiva’s trident. In the sun frame, that’s me :-)
Highlight: Gala Dinner at Prasat Kravan
More suitable for larger groups and correspondingly expensive. Nevertheless, it is worth mentioning at this point. There are organisers who offer exclusive gala dinners at Prasat Kraven. On request with a programme such as Apsara dancing. Candlelight illuminates the temple and the performances, immersing guests in an unrivalled atmosphere. The feedback is consistently enthusiastic. Here is an example from Tripadvisor:
We visited this Temple in the evening with our tour company Scenic for our farewell dinner. We did not know what to expect and were blown away as the evening unfolded.Tripadvisor
There are various event agencies that offer such a dinner on the forecourt of Prasat Kravan. For example Jaya Catering Events or Heritage Adventures. Organisers of luxury Mekong River Cruises like Mayflower Cruises and Tours or Scenic also offer a gala dinner at Prasat Kravan as a top highlight during the trip.
Questions and answers about Prasat Kravan
What is the history of Prasat Kravan?
It was built in the 10th century during the reign of King Harshavarman I. and dedicated to Vishnu in 921. The temple is known for its intricate brickwork and unique interior bas-reliefs depicting various scenes with Vishnu .
Where is Prasat Kravan located?
Positioned between magnificent Angkor Wat in the west and the serene Srah Srang lake in the northeast along southern route of the Small and Grand Circuit. Distance from the East Gate of Angkor Wat to Prasat Kravan is approximately 3.5 kilometers.
Who built Prasat Kravan?
The Prasat Kravan was built in the 10th century AD during the reign of King Harshavarman I.
What is a brick temple in Cambodia?
A brick temple in Cambodia is a religious building made mainly of bricks. Among the Angkor monuments, the brick construction of Prasat Kravan is unique.
Is it worth visiting Prasat Kravan?
A visit to the temple is definitely worthwhile. As mentioned, it’s best to visit in the morning.
Video: Prasat Kravan Temple, Angkor Cambodia
See more impressions in this video:
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