Four gopuras of landmark Shiva temple on Thai-Cambodia border damaged: Hindus concerned

February 9th, 2011 - 6:10 pm ICT by ANI  

Nevada (US), Feb 09 (ANI): “Very serious” damage has been caused to four gopuras (towered gateways found at the entrances to temples) of landmark Preah Vihear Shiva temple, according to a Cambodian Government communiqué.

The communiqué from the Cambodian Government’s National Committee for the World Heritage mentions about: very serious damages to the Gopura I, III, IV, and V of the Temple of Preah Vihear.

Hindus have expressed serious concern at the reported damage. Notable Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that international community, UNESCO, and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) should immediately provide funding to bring back this Lord Shiva temple to its original shape as it was before Thai-Cambodia clashes began February four. These organizations should not shy away to shoulder their responsibility of saving the important heritage of the world and respecting the feelings of Hindus worldwide, Zed added.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, welcomed UNESCO statement of sending a mission to the area as soon as possible to “assess the state of the temple”. It was a good “first step”, Zed said of the UNESCO assessment team, and added that it should dispatch another “repair team” also soon. Besides temple repairs, some infrastructure in the area should also be provided for devotees and other visitors.

Rajan Zed stressed that this landmark age-old and revered Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple complex was important to Hindu heritage and must be preserved to pass it on to the future generations. Damage to 11th century Shiva temple was shocking and hurtful to the Hindu community world over. Lord Shiva, one of the major deities in Hinduism forming great triad with Brahma and Vishnu, was focus of worship of the Hindus, and it was important for them that Preah Vihear Hindu Shiva temple be protected. It was a world heritage and it was moral duty of the world to keep it intact for the coming generations.

Known as Preah Vihear in Cambodia and Khao Phra Viharn in Thailand, this remote temple at the border between Thailand and Cambodia, which had reportedly not been clearly demarcated, had been a source of tension for generations. Preah Vihear was said to even predate Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex by about 100 years and its stunning setting made it finest of all the ruins left from the mighty Khmer civilization, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed pointed out that world should not let this sacred site dedicated to Lord Shiva (situated where Preah Vihear province of northern Cambodia touched Sisaket province of eastern Thailand) be further damaged to advance political agendas of some as there appeared to be a no clear solution to settle the long-standing territorial dispute surrounding the temple, which was already a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and whose history could be traced to 9th century when the hermitage was founded.

Moreover, Temple of Preah Vihear, an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture mostly created by Suryavarman I and Suryavarman II, was a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries and was said to be exceptional for the quality of its architecture and carved stone ornamentation. It was reportedly dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva in his manifestations as Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara. It was also said to be marking representation of sacred Mount Meru, the abode of the gods, and showing a depiction of Churning of the Ocean, a Hindu scriptural episode, Zed said.

Cambodian Government’s Committee describes Preah Vihear as: The site serves as a sacred place worshipping to the Hindu god Shiva manifesting as Sikharesvara (the Lord of Peak) and his figures are depicted on pediments and lintels.(ANI)

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