Chau Say Tevoda - the forgotten beautiful temple

Chau Say Tevoda - the forgotten beautiful temple

Despite being easily accessible, Chau Say Tevoda is less popular than other temples in Siem Reap. Chau Say Tevoda’s great charm is truly underrated.

What is Chau Say Tevoda?

Chau Say Tevoda - the forgotten beautiful temple

Being built in the mid-12th century, Chau Say Tevoda was dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva and Visnu. The temple stands 500 meters to the northeast of the Angkor Thom’s east gate and directly south of Thommanon across the Victory road. The current Chau Say Tevoda experienced 3 periods of construction before coming to the complete final establish.  Initially, it was partly built under the reign of King Suyavarman II. In the reign of King Jayavarman VII, the temple was implemented further. Essentially, Chau Say Tevoda was a Hindu temple being established by Hindu kings with the dominant appearance of two Hindu lords, Shiva and Visnu. However, you can find the representation of Buddha in Chau Say Tevoda since Buddha images are created during the reign of Dharanindravarman, father of Jayavarman VII.  At that period, because of religious transformation, Dharanindravarman liked to add new decorative factors. He proposed the idea of changing the temple from Hinduism to Buddhism. Beside to Hindu-themed sculptures, Buddha-themed bas-reliefs are also noticed.   

Chau Say Tevoda is quite close to Thommanon. These two small monuments are on the Victory road. One is on the left side and another is on the right side of the road. Both of them have common in size and architectural style however, Chau Say Tevoda was built much later. Two of constructions represent the classic art style. They were composed as two variations of a sole theme. Because of their shared outlook, it’s often said that Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon are a twin despite the fact that Chau Say Tevoda has ruined out more quickly than Thommanon.

Controversial restoration

While Thommanon was basically in the good condition, Chau Say Tevoda was in bad shape. Time and weather have considerable impacts on Chau Say Tevoda that was devastated by natural erosion for centuries. The temple was in the dilapidated state when 4000 of its peace of stone masonry lying scattered around and in the Siem Reap river. Between 2000 and 2009, the temple underwent an extensive restoration under the sponsorship of China. In this project, these elements were put together. In 2009, the work was completed and Chau Say Tevoda has reopened and been fully accessible.

However, the restoration was controversial when lots of missing elements were replaced with modern materials that were carved to look like the initial designs. The Chinese program of restoration decided to entirely reconstruct the temple by using newly fabricated stones. This idea was fiercely opposed by American and Japanese experts however it was still operated thanks to the allowance of UNESCO with ICOMOS outlines. As an archaeologist assumed “In few years’ time, it will be difficult to distinguish these stones from the ones carved in the 12th century”. In fact, the new elements are simple to identify and the quality of the replica is not similar to the artist quality of the original work. Sometimes, the technique of deliberately uncovers the replaced stones. Nevertheless, the restoration was considerably helpful when it helps the visitors imagine and take a closer look at this ancient blocks.

Chau Say Tevoda - the forgotten beautiful temple

The remarkable thing

The area of Chau Says Tevoda is rectangular with a central sanctuary in the east. Central sanctuary is a long room that is in front of the main square and link to the east entry tower. It’s noticeable that there are patterns of flower and sculpted stony flowers that also appeared in Banteay Srei and Baphuon.

One outstanding characteristic of Chau Say Tevoda is the sacred female image, also called devata. In total, there are 4000 of devata being installed in the temple, which expresses the strength in their beauty. The good quality and the unique style of these devatas will surely leave a strong impression on you. Contemplating these devatas, you won’t stop uttering “How talented the Khmer sculptors are!”. The well-executed carvings that are in favorable condition are also found Chau Say Tevoda, especially in the eastern side.

Insider tips

► You just have to climb the little stairs to have a look at the inside. The stairway is not as steep and high as that of some temples in Angkor so hiking up maybe not challenging and you don’t need to worry too much about your children. However, it’s still better to watch them carefully since there are some places to jump.

► The temple is not walled and you can easily realize it straight from the road.

In hot or sunny summer days, make sure to carry the hat, sunscreen, and enough water.

► 15 to 30 minutes is the ideal duration to explore Chau Say Tevoda. This is perfectly suitable for the quick stop and short visit.

It’s a good idea to go to the eastern pathway toward the Siem Reap river for sightseeing.

► Ticket won’t be checked frequently but occasionally. If you move from Siem Reap, your ticket will surely be checked at the entrance roads to Angkor's major monuments.

► You are highly recommended to carry the camera. Chau Say Tevoda is an awesome place to take pictures. With unique stunning stony blocks and green grass carpet, you won’t regret.

Chau Say Tevoda - the forgotten beautiful temple

With a sense of Khmer architecture, Chau Say Tevoda is not touristy but peaceful. Let’s sit there in the shade and contemplate the gorgeous carving and have a nice moment.

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