Phimeanakas Temple is found in a tranquil forest setting and has a mysterious grandeur, which you can feel through your bones. It piques the imagination of what this place must have once looked like…but now lost in the dusty pages of history.
Constructed in the 10th century during the reign of Rajendravarman (from 941-968), then completed by Suryavarman and this Hindu temple is one of the oldest in the Angkor Thom Archaeology Park.
Phimeanakas’s name translated means “Celestial Palace” and was once a place of worship for the royals.
Some archaeologists believe an older structure existed earlier on this site – because of Sanskrit inscriptions that were found amongst the rock carvings.
Located in the Royal Palace Area, Phimeanakas Temple is in the shape of a three tiered, step pyramid and believed to have once had a gold pinnacle sitting on top…can you just imagine it’s beauty during the reign of the mighty Khmer empire?
Phimeakanakas Temple was thought to be the focal point in the capital of Angkor and according to legend, it was inhabited by a 7 headed serpent called a Naga (which is represented in many of the Cambodian temples).
This seductive Naga would transform into a woman every night and it was said that the king was required to make love with the serpent woman, lest disaster befall him or the kingdom. So like any good king, he complied…and even The Queen was not privy to what took place in this private domain.
In 1919 Henri Marchal an engineer and Curator of Angkor discovered a broken stele during excavation at Phimeanakas Temple. It was found to be inscribed on instruction by King Jayavarman VII’s wife – The Queen.
She describes a number of important events that took place during the King’s reign, such as battles between the Khmer empire and other countries – it also included such information about the King’s coronation in 1181.
This is one of the only records left of the mighty Khmer empire because many of them have been lost or destroyed through the ravages of time.
We will never know what really happened throughout this mysterious county’s past…but maybe in the future, we will discover more about this deep and mystical land called Cambodia.