'Kailas in the East'

Have you ever imagined a Shiva temple as old as 1100 years old in Cambodia? No? Then Tarun Vijay, a passionate photographer, also a Rajya Sabha MP will take you to his journey to Shikhareshwar Temple in Cambodia with his stunning photographs.

Tarun along with Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) is presenting a photo-exhibition titled ‘Kailas in the East’, where 50 of his works are displayed, till July 17 at Azad Bhavan. The pictures tell a tale of ruins of the temple which is also an UNESCO world heritage site.

Tarun’s exhibition traces the interesting archaeological links between the temples in India, Indo-China as well as Southeast Asia. “The traditions of Hindu culture which travelled into the Southeast Asia about a millennia ago, continue to be an integral part of daily life in that region and the exhibition is an accurate testimony to these strong links” saya Dr Suresh K Goel, DG, ICCR.

According to Tarun, “The exhibition is the first ever attempt to unravel the mystic beauty and the 1100-year old India-inspired architecture that made UNESCO declare it a World Heritage site. The Shiva temple is known as Preah Vihier and its ancient name is Shikhareshwar Temple.”

“It was a rewarding experience. The temple has the rarest of the rarest depictions of Lord Shiva. For instance, there is a rather unique stone image of Shiva dancing on an elephant head on the doors of the sanctum-sanctorum. It is mesmerising,” adds Tarun.

 An astonishing fact is that this Shiva temple has one entrance in Thailand while the other is in Cambodia! The World Heritage temple Preah Vihear is located on top of a hill in the Dangkrek Range which was considered the Himalaya of Angkor Vat in ancient times. The temple known as Shikhareshwar, meaning the Lord of the peak that represents Kailas – the abode of Shiva.

All 50 photographs show different characteristics of the historic temple. One of the pictures also has Lord Krishna lifting Govardhan, while another one shows the seven-hooded serpant. There are also a number of other images of Hindu gods, depicting instances such as the churning of the ocean by gods and demons; Vishnu asleep on the coils of the Sheshnag, etc. The temple was originally built by the Angkor king Yasovarman in the 9th century AD. The following kings – Suryavarman I, Suryavarman II, Jayavarman VII added new elements to the temple, which took 450 years to complete!

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