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Dharmasala

1 min read

Dharmasalas, or "Houses with Fire", are the sanctuaries (chapels) of rest houses, placed under the protection of Lokeshvara, that were erected along the main roads leading from Angkor, for the benefit of travellers.

The dharmasalas may have had a religious function as the repository the Sacred Flame used in sacred ceremonies.

They were part of a building programme undertaken during the reign of late 12th-century monarch Jayavarman VII, usually built with stone or laterite.  A dharmasala has thick walls, a tower at the west end and south-facing windows.

The Preah Khan Temple stele mentions that "... on the roads going from Yashodharapura (Angkor) to the capital of Champa [there are] 57 rest houses 'with fire'... from the capital to Vimay (Phimai Temple), [there are] 17 houses 'with fire' [...] the total is 121."

Today, dharmasalas can be found in several major temples built by Jayavarman VII, including Ta Prohm Temple, Preah Khan Temple, Banteay Chhmar Temple and Preah Khan of Kompong Svay.



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