Neak Pean Cambodia – Neak Pean (or Neak Poan) (“The entwined serpents”) at Angkor, Cambodia is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII.:389 It is the “Mebon” of the Preah Khan baray (the “Jayatataka” of the inscription)
Some historians believe that Neak Pean represents Anavatapta,174 a mythical lake in the Himalayas whose waters are thought to cure all illness.124–125 The name is derived from the sculptures of snakes (Nāga) running around the base of the temple structure, neak being the Khmer rendering of the Sanskrit naga. “They are Nanda and Upananda, two nagas traditionally associated with Lake Anavatapta
Neak Pean Background
Although. Neak Pean is small and a collection of five ponds, it is worth a visit for its unique features. It is believed to have been consecrated to Buddha coning to the glory of Nivana.
The central pond is a replica of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, situated at the top of the universe. The lake gives birth to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are represented at Neak Pean by sculpted gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points Lake Anavatapta was fed by hot springs and venerated in India for the curative powers of its waters. The orientation of the ponds at Neak Pean ensured that the water was always fresh because the pods received only reflected light.
Neak Pean is a large square man-made pond (70 meters, 230 feet each side) bordered by steps and surrounded by four smaller ponds. A small circular island with a stepped base of seven laterite tiers is in the center of the large square pond. Small elephants sculpted in the round originally stood on the four comers. The central tower was dedicated to Avalokitesvara.