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India to Help Cambodia in Restoration of Shiva Temple

The Khmer Temples of Prsat Preah Vihear in Cambodia. Cambodia.

India will help Cambodia in the renovation work of an ancient temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, in the remote Preah Vihear province. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the restoration of the UNESCO World Heritage Site was signed between the two countries in the presence of Indian Minister of External Affairs, Sushma Swaraj, and her Cambodian counterpart, Prak Sokhonn, on Aug. 29 in Phnom Penh, PTI reported.

The Temple of Preah Vihear is situated on the edge of a plateau that dominates the plains of Cambodia. The Shiva temple dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. However, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded, according to the UNESCO World Heritage Center (UWHC).

The temple is “an outstanding masterpiece of Khmer architecture, in terms of plan, decoration and relationship to the spectacular landscape environment,” says UWHC, describing it as a unique architectural complex of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases on an 800 meter long axis.

The Indian embassy in Phnom Penh tweeted that two MoUs were signed between India and Cambodia. While one of them is for restoration and preservation of the world heritage site, the other is an agreement between India’s Foreign Service Institute (FSI) and Cambodia’s National Institute of Diplomacy and International Relations (NIDIR).

India has contributed in the restoration of temples in Cambodia earlier as well. Between 1986 and 1993, the Indian government undertook the conservation of the ancient Angkor Wat temple, which is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, by allocating $4 million for the restoration work.

In December 2003, the Archeological Survey of India (ASI) started helping in the restoration of the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap province of Cambodia, according to a 2017 document of the MEA. This temple is dedicated to Lord Brahma and situated near the Angkor Wat temple. The third phase of its restoration started in November 2016.

The amount to be contributed by the government of India for the temple of Preah Vihear is not confirmed yet, as it depends upon a study of the site to be conducted by Indian experts.

India has pledged to continue its support for the restoration of the Ta Prohm and Preah Vihear temples, Khmer Times reported.

“India will send experts and equipment for the restoration and conservation work on the temples,” the publication quoted Cambodian Foreign Ministry’s spokesman Ket Sophann as saying. “After completing studies, India will confirm how much aid will be granted to restore the temples,” he added.