A lesser known treasure discovered on route to Cambodia’s iconic Tonlé Sap lake lies 6km to the south of Siem Reap. Dubbed the Prasat Vat Althea or Wat Althea temple this ancient religious structure forms an integral part of Angkor’s proud history as one of its most exquisite sandstone temple complexes to date. Frequented by locals and tourists alike the temple of Wat Athvea is perhaps best known for its breathtaking pagoda which reflects an architectural style that is steeped in the ancient culture of Angkor’s glory days. Believed to have been commissioned to be built by none other than King Suryavarman II who ruled the kingdom from 1115 AD to 1150 AD and is also credited with the creation of globally renowned Angkor Wat, the sandstone marvel dates back centuries to the heydays of the 12th century when the venue served as a leading Hindu institution in the area.
Surrounded by walls in all four directions the Hindu temple is also located near a Buddhist religious institution and cemetery on one side. Serving as an active place of worship to this day although the structure is a far cry from what it was in centuries’ past Wat Athvea remains a preferred stopover for many Hindu devotees who flock to the venue to perform religious rites and engage in self reflection. Some of its chief highlights include the Devata images that have been carved on to stone facades It is these images that helped archeologists determine the time period to which the venue belongs to, as the style of the Devatas (holy female figures) found on the site reflect similar carvings found in other seminal constructions from this era. The half completed Apsara images found at Wat Athvea support the popular view that the building of Wat Athvea served as a training exercise for builders and workmen during the period who went on to complete larger and more grandiose structures employing the same design principles.
Travellers on the lookout for a luxury hotel Siem Reap counts among its most coveted rests should look to the Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor for all reservations. Offering guests the crème de la crème in five star accommodation this Siem Reap hotel is ideally suited for both holidaymakers and corporate visitors.
Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.