It was realised during the
reign of Yasovarman towards the end of the 9th century and
supplied by waters from the Siem Reap river. This vast reservoir
served to regulate the flow of the river and to irrigate
the surrounding plain, is today given over to rice fields.
To judge by the laterite steps that surround the small island
of the Mebon, the original depth of water contained was
approximately three metres and its volume must have been
some 40 million cubic metres.
The Mebon has all the characteristics of a 'temple-mountain'
symbolising Mount Meru - here there is a three-metre high
central platform carrying the quincunx of towers. Originally
the Mebon temple stood on an island surrounded entirely
by the waters of the Eastern Baray - accessible only by
boat. The centre of the baray was marked by this small island
of 120 metres across on which the temple stands. The main
entry pavilion of the Royal Palace and the Victory Gate
of Angkor Thom were subsequently aligned along this axis.
Several inscriptions found in the vicinity as well as
the foundation stele - dated 952 (only nine years prior
to Pre- Rup) describe the placing in the various sanctuaries
of the linga Sri Rajendresvara, of several gods - notably
Shiva and Parvati "in the likeness of the mother and
the father" of King Rajendravarman in addition to Vishnu
with Brahma. Eight linga of the god in eight forms were
also placed in the eight small towers of the surrounding
court. The Mebon belongs to a group of temples consecrated
to the memory of deified parents.
According to an inscription, the walls were originally
covered externally with a lime-based plaster coating (as
evident at Pre Rup temple) with the pitted hammer marks
in the brickwork to adhere the stucco onto the towers, the
only remaining evidence. Most lintels remain in place on
this monument and are of excellent craftsmanship. On the
central tower to the east, Indra on a three-headed elephant
with flights of figures disgorged by makara, under a small
frieze of figures in meditation; to the west, Skanda the
god of war on his peacock with a line of figures holding
lotus flowers; and to the south, Shiva on the sacred bull