Banteay Chhmar is a commune (khum) and a large temple complex in in Thma Puok District in Banteay Meanchey province in northwest Cambodia. It is located 63km north of Sisophon and fairly near to the Thai border. It is one of the least visited, studied, and protected temples from Cambodia's Angkor period. The commune of Banteay Chhmar contains 14 villages.
Like Angkor Thom, Banteay Chhmar was constructed during the reign of Jayavarman VII in the 12th/13 century. The central temple once held an image of Srindrakumaraputra (the crown prince), probably a son of Jayavarman VII. The Old Khmer inscription found at the site (K.227), and now on display in the National Museam in Phnom Penh, relates how this prince was protected on two different occasions by four generals, all of whom lost their lives in the prince's defense. The names of these generals are listed in the inscription and in each of the four corners of the sanctuary, where their respective images were placed. (Higham, 132)
The remote location of Banteay Chhmar is puzzling; it is difficult to imagine why Jayavarman VII would have built this temple so far from his own center at Angkor and in such isolation. It is telling, however, that Banteay Chhmar lies near one of Jayavarman's other great technical feats: the royal road, in this case the road to Phimai. We can therefore surmise that the temple did not merely cater to a locally settled population but to people on the move, whether that be armies, royal personnel, or merchants. It is also possible that the desolate land around Banteay Chhmar was once far more productive and populated, and that the site represents an extreme case of settlement failure or ruination through war.
The complex resembles Angkor Thom and other contemporary structures in many ways, from the causeway flanked by giants holding a snake (representing the Churning of the Ocean of Milk) to the towers with four faces. Perhaps the most striking similarities can be drawn between Banteay Chhmar and the Bayon: both are decorated with bas-reliefs depicting royal processions and battles with the Chams. The bas-reliefs also display several large images of a multi-armed Avalokiteshvara, though some of these have been looted and/or relocated to Phnom Penh.
Because of its remote location, it has been subject to severe looting. In 1998, 2000 and 2002 the temple was listed by the World Monuments Fund as one of the hundred most endangered sites in all countries, although it was not featured in the two subsequent lists.
Coaxing a Khmer temple from the jungle's embrace International team aims to repair Banteay Chhmar after decades of neglect
Jun 03, 2009; Robert Turnbull International Herald Tribune International Herald Tribune 06-03-2009 Coaxing a Khmer temple from the jungle's...
Cambodia's remote temple ruins are well worth the trek; At Banteay Chhmar, the ancient and present coexist; I realised I was seeing not only a temple but a way of life, writes John Burgess.(Life)
Jul 12, 2009; It' s early on a Sunday mor-ning in Cambodia and I'm standing at a 12th-century moat. Traces of mist hover above the lotus leaves...