Hindus have applauded re-opening of renowned 11th-Century Baphoun Shiva temple in Angkor Thom complex of Cambodia after decades of reconstruction work. Described as world’s largest puzzle, renovation work which began in 1960s but was interrupted by Cambodia’s civil war, involved dismantling monument’s about 300,000 sandstone blocks and putting those back together. This great three-tiered intricately carved ancient temple, one of the largest monument of Cambodia, was said to be on the brink of collapse when reconstruction was undertaken and later on reassembling records got destroyed.
The re-opening on July 3, 2011, was attended by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and French Prime Minister Francois Fillon in Siem Reap province, about 143 miles northwest of capital Phnom Penh. France funded this $14 million undertaking, in which no mortar fills the cracks and thus each stone has its own place in the monument and no two blocks are said to be same in dimensions.
Welcoming this historical reopening, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that more needed to be done to safeguard the Angkor temple complex and its surroundings and deteriorating bas-reliefs; save it from vandalism and looting; put some controls on unchecked tourism; check the demand for water table which could undermine the stability of sandy soils under the temples.
Rajan Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, also urged UNESCO World Heritage Convention, Cambodia and other world governments to provide more funding for the upkeep of the temple complex and spend more than half the ticket revenue on the temples. Zed commended France and China for bankrolling the restoration of historic Hindu temples.
Baphoun, said to be the state temple of Udayadityavarman II, reportedly contains Shiva linga; scenes from Ramayana and Mahabharata; depiction of Krishna, Shiva, Hanuman, Sita, Vishnu, Rama, Agni, Ravana, Indrajit, Nila-Sugriva, Asoka trees, Lakshmana, Garuda, Pushpaka, Arjuna, etc.
Angkor Archaeological Park contains magnificent remains of over 1000 temples going back to ninth century, spread over about 400 square kilometers, and receives about three million visitors annually.