Sunday, June 8, 2014

Indian copy of Angkor Wat irritates Cambodia

Indian copy of Angkor Wat irritates CambodiaThursday, March 8, 2012

PHNOM PENH -- The Cambodian government said Wednesday the decision by a Hindu trust to build a full-scale replica in India of the Angkor Wat temple was a shameful act.

Government spokesman Phay Siphan said imitating Cambodia's best-known structure and key tourist draw was a deliberate attempt to undermine its universal value.

“Angkor Wat is Angkor Wat, it is unique,” he said of the 12th-century temple that was listed as a World Heritage site in 1992.

“They are raising this to be confrontational (and) it is provocative of the World Heritage principle,” he said. “We won't let anyone confuse the world that there are two Angkor Wats.”

The Bihar Mahavir Mandir Trust, a Hindu organization, reportedly started work Monday on a US$20 million stone replica in India's eastern state of Bihar.

Phay Siphan said Phnom Penh would raise its concerns with the Indian government.

“(The two nations) have good relations and good cooperation, so we are looking for that to solve this issue,” he said, adding that there was little chance the Indian copy would damage tourism.

“The tourists who come to visit Angkor Wat are not seeing it simply as a stone building,” Phay Siphan said. “They come here to see the culture and to learn.”

Angkor Wat attracted nearly 3 million foreign tourists last year. The temple, which appears on the flag, is a centerpiece of national identity and pride.

Although Cambodia is today a predominantly Buddhist nation, Angkor Wat, near the northwestern city of Siem Reap, was built as a Hindu temple.

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