The Bakong was the first temple we visited. I was so pre-occupied with taking photographs that I completely missed out on our guide’s explanation of the temple’s history.
Ok, I confess that I barely listened to our guide throughout the trip and had to research on the Internet the history of all the temples we visited after I returned.
Constructed around AD 881 by King Indravarman I (3rd Khmer King), the Bakong was the first sandstone state temple of the Khmers. It is seated in the centre of Hariharalaya, the first capital of the Khmer Empire, and this area is now known as Roluos.
As Hindu was one of the official religions of the Khmers, the construction of state temples was understandably heavily influenced by Indian temple architecture. Featuring a 5-tier pyramid surrounded by chambers, chapels and prasats (towers), the Bakong is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the home of the gods in Hindu mythology. Each of the 5 tiers represent a different realm (from bottom up) – nagas (cobras), garudas (mythical birds), rakshasas (demons), yakshas (nature spirits) and maharajas (kings).
What we were unprepared for was the unbelievably hot weather. Barely started the day and we were already soaked in perspiration climbing up and down the very steep steps of the Bakong.
So happy to see humongous coconuts on sale as we exited the Bakong, but it was difficult getting away from the clamoring hawkers trying to get us to buy their coconuts.