East Mebon Temple is the younger of the ‘Twin Temples’ (the name given to both the Pre Rup and East Mebon Angkor temples), with construction being completed in 953AD. East Mebon, like Pre Rup, has a privileged location deep among the rice paddies, and the somewhat detached location and the ‘raised’ profile of the temple give it a very majestic aura. The raised profile of the temple owes to its location over the east Baray – a huge purpose-built reservoir constructed by Yasodharapura at the beginning of the 10th century to provide water for his new city. It was King Rajendravarman who decided to build a temple in the East Baray, and given that it once held 55 million cubic meters of water, the temple had to be raised.
For this reason, unlike other temples, to access the first level a set of wooden steps has been constructed. During the time when the city was active, you would of course have arrived by boat.
On the east side of the temple you can examine the Hindu mythological art of the laterite galleries which have impressive tiled roofs and balustered windows. Another beautiful addition to this temple are the elephants which can be found at the corners of the enclosures, two of which are over two meters high. Monolithic in style, these are well preserved, very ornately constructed, and catch an impressive morning light. The main towers, which share the style of having one central larger tower and four at each corner, have intricately carved lintels, and feature more depictions of Hindu mythology. One of the most striking scenes on the lintels include Indra, the King of the Gods, atop Airavata, the three-headed elephant. Others are of Varuna (King of the waters, rather fittingly) on his hamsa, or Ganesha (quite oddly) riding his own trunk, amongst others. And once you reach the summit, admire the surrounding rice fields, and imagine a time when the temple was surrounded by water.