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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

November 12, 2013 08:25 IST

900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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The United Nation’s International Court of Justice ruled on Monday that Cambodia should have sovereignty over the disputed land around the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple bordering Thailand.

With inputs from PTI

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Image: Buddhist monks visit the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple on the border between Thailand and Cambodia
Photographs: Samrang Pring/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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The ICJ also ruled that Thailand should at once withdraw its troops from the area, BBC reported.

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Image: Cambodian soldiers walk at the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple on the border between Thailand and Cambodia.
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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A 1962 verdict by the court declared the temple to be Cambodian, but did not rule on the area around it. Cambodia sought a clarification of the ruling two years ago, after fighting erupted,” the report added.

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Image: Monks walk past a Combodian soldier to attend a Buddhism ceremony praying for peace called Krong Pealy at Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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Preah Vihear, which was built during the Khmer Empire, is set atop a cliff in the Dangrek Mountains. The ancient temple is among several stretches of the border where sporadic gun and artillery clashes have erupted between Thai and Cambodia troops. Each side has blamed the other for starting the fights, which have caused nationalist outcries in both countries.

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Image: Buddhist monks visit the 900-year-old Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Samrang Pring/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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The construction of the first temple on the site began in the early 9th century; both then and in the following centuries it was dedicated to Lord Shiva in his manifestations as the mountain gods Sikharesvara and Bhadresvara.

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Image: A Cambodian soldier patrols at Preah Vihaer temple
Photographs: Chor Sokunthea/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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The earliest surviving parts of the temple, however, date from the Koh Ker period in the early 10th century, when the empire's capital was at the city of that name. Today, elements of the Banteay Srei style of the late 10th century can be seen, but most of the temple was constructed during the reigns of the Khmer kings Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and Suryavarman II (1113–1150).

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Image: Supporters of the Thailand's People's Alliance for Democracy scuffle with a villager during a march along a highway leading to the Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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In the wake of the decline of Hinduism in the region the site was converted to use by Buddhists.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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Image: A Buddhist monk and a Cambodian soldier prepare food at the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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900-yr-old Hindu temple that nearly started a WAR

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In a unanimous decision,, the Hague-based International

Court of Justice's noted on Monday that Thailand was "under an obligation to withdraw from that territory the Thai military or police forces or other guards or keepers that were stationed there."

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Image: A sign is seen under Cambodian and UNESCO flags at the Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Damir Sagolj/Reuters

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This is the latest attempt to settle a long-simmering border dispute between Cambodia and Thailand which has claimed at least 28 lives in outbreaks of violence since 2011 over the ownership of the patch of border land next to the UNESCO heritage site.

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Image: Cambodian families reside inside the grounds of the Preah Vihear temple.
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters

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Last year, the ICJ ruled that both countries should withdraw forces from around the temple. Cambodia and Thailand finally pulled hundreds of soldiers from the disputed zone in July 2012, replacing them with police and security guards.

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Image: A Cambodian soldier stands guard on the grounds of the Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Adrees Latif/Reuters

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Tens of thousands of people were displaced in the 2011 fighting, leading Cambodia to ask the Netherlands-based ICJ for an interpretation of an original 1962 ruling.

Thailand does not dispute Cambodia's ownership of the temple but both sides laid claim to an adjacent 4.6 sq km piece of land. The roots of the dispute lie in maps drawn up in 1907 during French colonial rule.

In 1962, after a dispute between Thailand and Cambodia over ownership, the ICJ awarded the temple to Cambodia.


Image: People visit the Preah Vihear temple
Photographs: Samrang Pring/Reuters

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