Monday, December 7, 2009

Sacred mountain and Wat Phou

The pre-Angkorian ruins of Wat Phou lie under the mountain of Linga Parvata topped by a natural lingam. The site is beautiful — an enormous causeway lined with columns of lotus buds divide the two baray and end in the symmetrical positioning of two pavilions adorned with carvings that are seriously and atmospherically crumbling. All the while the back drop is the lingam mountain. A series of very steep steps shrouded by flowering frangipani leads up to the main sanctuary originally dedicated to Siva. It’s a small temple decorated in carvings of apsaras; a dominant carving on a door head features Indra sitting on a three-headed elephant — the representation of the Kingdom of Lane Xang (Land of a Million Elephants). The sanctuary is now a Buddhist shrine and wisps of incense drift around the Buddha statues that are cramped inside. Behind this temple a makara’s mouth channels the holy water from the holy mountain — once used to wash the lingam that used to be housed in the temple.

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