Sangke Pagoda is Angkor style tower located in the grounds of Wat Sanker in Battambang, Cambodia.
Sangke Pagoda in Battambang
Very little is known for sure about Sangke Pagoda, not even when it was built. The Pagoda maybe over a 1,000 years old as it could have been constructed at the same time as the more famous Wat Ek Phnom temple complex some 13 km from the Sangke Pagoda. Wat Ek Phnom was constructed in 1027 during the reign of Suryavarman I. This is proof that the temple builders of the Angkor regime were active in region a very long time ago.
About Sangke Pagoda
The Sangke Pagoda, which is most likely a Hindu shrine, sits within the grounds of a modern Buddhist temple, Wat Sanker. It is very common for Buddhist temples in South East Asia to have been constructed in the same places as earlier Hindu temples. Buddhism did not become the official religion of Cambodia until the 13th Century, and before that time most of the Khmer rulers of the Angkor period where Hindu.
Congregation Hall at Wat Sanker
The Sangke Pagoda features classic iconography closely associated with the Angkor period. You will see the same types of images on the temples at Angkor Wat. The pagoda has a naga stair rail. Naga are mythical serpents. The figures holding up the naga appear to be characters from the Hindu saga of the Churning of the Ocean. In this saga deities called devas and asuras churn up the Cosmic Ocean to release the elixir of life. The sea was churned up using a giant pole which was turned using the long body of the Naga God Vasuki as a churning string. The deva pulled one end of the Naga God and the asuras pulled the other. The stair rail on the Sangke Pagoda appears to show asuras holding up the serpent like body of Vasuki, with devi (the female equivalent of a deva) seated above at the four corners of the base of the pagoda.
Naga stairs on Sangke Pagoda
The person who designed Wat Sanker appears to have been fully aware of the importance of the Sangke Pagoda, and its meaning, as Angkor-era Hindu features have been incorporated into design of a modern Buddhist temple.
Gopura at the entrance to Wat Sanker
The most striking Hindu image at War Sanker is the four-faced image which features on the gopura above the main entrance to the temple. The four faced image is not the Lord Buddha, but the Hindu God Brahma who is often depicted in Hindu temples has having four faces to represent the four vedas, which are the ancient holy scriptures of the Hindu religion. Gopura are a feature found on most of the temples at Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom as well as a classic feature of South Indian Hindu temples.
Angkor style bas relief at Wat Sanker
The other major reference to the Sangke Pagoda is the bas relief sculptures of devas and asuras holding the body of the Naga King built into the walls of the temple and inside the side gate of the temple. These sculptures mirror the sculptures which adorn the Sangke Pagoda.