When visiting the Angkor group, visitors can’t help being impressed by the second-to-none features of a temple there. It is not only special because of its architectural arrangements but also because of the meaning of its internal parts. That small but great temple is Neak Pean Temple. Neak Pean is a tiny temple erected during the reign of King Jayavarman VII, a powerful king in the late 12th century. The King ordered the construction of a vast reservoir east of Preah Khan temple to provide water to its hundred-thousand support workers. Stretching a half kilometer by 900 meters, the artificial lake stored millions of cubic meters of water to irrigate the rice fields during the dry season.
Neak Pean Temple is placed at the center of a largepond whichdrains into the four surrounding smaller ponds through gargoyles shaped like a lion, an elephant, a horse, and a man respectively and this cross-shapedstructure is seemed associated with the description of Anavatapta,a mythical lake in the Himalayas whose waters are thought to cure all illness. Especially, the pedestal of Neak Pean Temple looks like a snake running around the base of the temple. The temple and its special pedestal with incredible structure of the surroundedponds create an island like no other in the world.
The mystical significance of Neak Pean has not discovered yet, but the Khmer kings commonly placed islands at the center of reservoir. Some historians believe that Neak Pean represents Anavatapta. If the theory is correct, it is uncertain one gargoyle is a man and not an ox.