Prasat Phnom Banan Winery

Phnom Banan is both a pretty charming Khmer temple and a living pilgrimage site in around 20 km distance to the south of Battambang. The temple is situated atop the eastern crest of a 5 m long ridge, which rises up to 200 m at its opposite western end. The temple compound seems to be leveled artificialy. The elevation of Phnom Banan temple is 80 m, corresponding 55 m above ground level of the surrounding plains.

Phnom Banan is both a pretty charming Khmer temple and a living pilgrimage site in around 20 km distance to the south of Battambang. The temple is situated atop the eastern crest of a 5 m long ridge, which rises up to 200 m at its opposite western end. The temple compound seems to be leveled artificialy. The elevation of Phnom Banan temple is 80 m, corresponding 55 m above ground level of the surrounding plains.

A Naga railing flanks the access stairway of 358 laterite steps. The Naga carvings facing east, found at the foot of the hill, are comparatively sculptural in design. The foot of the stairway is furthermore flanked by two small laterite structures, one of which is in a good state of preservation.

The temple proper overlooking the plains of Sangker River consists of five Prasats, the eastern one of which serves as an entrance gate (east gopuram). The central tower facing east is accompanied by four towers in the cardinal directions, which are incorporated in a former enclosure wall, which is only partly preserved in its original height. The foundation of the towers is of laterite, whereas superstructures are partly made of sandstone, though in an irregular way. The temple seems to have been demolished and restored. This corresponds to the attribution of Phnom Banan to two kings of different centuries.

The founder, King Uttayadityavarman II, reigned in the mid 11th century. He is famously known for finalizing the Baphuon temple in Angkor and the West Baray reservoir, both already started in the long reign of his predecessor Suryavarman I, and for leaving the historically most relevant and debated inscription, found in Sdok Kak Thom on today's territory of Thailand. Suryavarman I was the founder of the Ek Phom temple just north of Battambang. Udayadityavarman was not his son and, in contrast to his predecessor, his short reign was a period of unrest. His temple near Suyarvarman's Ek Phnom may have been a demontration of power at the southeastern corner of the empire.   

However, Udayadityavarman was Shaivite and the sculptures of Phnom Banan are mainly Buddhist. As they were later on defaced like those in Angkor, it's highly likely that the Buddhist temple was the result of a temple rebuilding under Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century.

As said, most of the Buddhist statues and many Apsaras are defaced and otherwise in a delapidated condition. Some of the carved lintels are still in situ, whereas others are on display in the Provincial Museum of Battambang.

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