Indravarman I

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Indravarman I
Predecessor Pṛthi­vīn­dravarman
Successor Yaśovarman I
Father Pṛthi­vīn­dravarman
Mother Pṛthi­vīndradevī

Indravarman I (Khmer: ឥន្រ្ទវរ្ម័នទី១) was a ruler of Khmer Empire who reigned from Hariharalaya between 877/78 and 889/890 AD.

Indravarman's ancestors[edit]

According to the inscriptions of the Práḥ Kô temple, consecrated on Monday, 25 January 880 AD (Foundation stele K. 713 a[1] three pairs of temple towers for three deceased kings and their queens were built by him as a kind of "memorial temple", as can be seen by the inscriptions on the door frames of the towers: The central towers were dedicated to Jayavarman II under his posthumous name Parameśvara and his queen Dharaṇīndradevī (K. 320a),[2] the northern ones for Rudravarman (consecrated as Rudreśvara) and Rajendradevī (K. 318a), his mother's parents, and the southern towers for Pṛthivīndravarman (consecrated as Pṛthivīndreśvara) and Pṛthi­vīndradevī (K. 315 a)[3] and K. 713 b).

Pṛthi­vīn­dravarman and Rudravarman[edit]

Actually the classical succession of kings in the 9th century[4] was disputed by some epigraphists such as Kamaleswar Bhattacharya and Karl-Heinz Golzio. Since the poor activity and records of Jayavarman III, and the presence of the dedicated towers of Preah Ko, they had interpreted some Sanskrit inscriptions at Roluos as proof of existence of two kings between him and Indravarman: Rudravarman and Pṛthivīndravarman.[5]

According to the Lolei inscription K. 324 of Indravarman's successor Yaśovarman I, dated 8 July 893 AD, Rudravarman was the younger brother of the mother of 'Dharaṇīndradevī, the queen consort of Jayavarman II and mother of Jayavarman III (whom Indravarman mentioned under his posthumous name Viṣṇuloka in his Bakong inscription K. 826 stanza XXX, dated 881/82 AD.[6]

Although Michael Vickery,[7] has pointed out that they are not mentioned in later times and that these "-varman" ancestors of Indravarman may easily be explained as posthumous upgrading of the king’s parents, which perhaps already occurred within their lifetimes, the following facts should be taken into account: 1) The inscriptions of the 9th century gave an account of events, i.e. genealogies and relative chronologies, referring to that century itself; 2) One should have great doubts concerning the reliability of later inscriptions that record wrong reign dates and stories about family connections never heard of before, which was pointed out especially by Vickery;[8] 3) later inscriptions omitted very often not only these two kings, but also other important kings (Jayavarman IV mentioned only his three predecessors; Rājendravarman II, the founder of a new dynasty, has omitted in his Bàksĕi Čaṃkrŏṅ inscription K. 286, dated 23 February 948, all his predecessors with the exception of Jayavarman II and Jayavarman III); 4) In the 9th century the "-varman"-title was exclusively reserved for kings (by the way, Rudravarman was no father of a king); 5) It is surprising that later inscriptions were considered more trustworthy than contemporary ones, thus twisting things instead of following a historio-critical method.[9]

Indravarman's monuments and public buildings[edit]

While Jayavarman II was credited for the founding of the Khmer Empire ca. 800 AD, Indravarman I was credited for an extensive building program. He set the foundations for the future Angkorian kings to follow. The king's first act was to performed a public service for his subjects by building an irrigation network for the rice fields. The goal was usually achieved by constructing a large reservoir to retain water during the Monsoon season and then released it during the dry season through a network of canals and channels. And in Hindu mythology the reservoir also represents an ocean and the temple-mountain represents Mount Meru, the home of the gods.[10] The king and his Brahman advisors performed many rituals throughout the year to reinforce this belief. For example, the ritual of rain-making performed before the rice planting season, etc. Immediately, after Indravarman I acceded, he declared in his Práḥ Kô inscription: "In five days from today I shall begin digging, etc."[11] Dig he did with a reservoir of an immense size: the Indratāṭaka was the biggest reservoir ever built before his time being 3.8 kilometres (2.4 mi) long by 800 metres (2,600 ft) wide. However, later rulers managed to out-build him and made his reservoir looked small. Now dry, it could have held about 7.5 million cubic metres of water during the Monsoon season.

The king's second act was - as mentioned above - to build shrines and dedicated them to his god, ancestors, and parents, etc. At his capital city Hariharālaya, Roluos at present, Indravarman I built Práḥ Kô which he dedicated to his parents, wife, and the dynasty founder Jayavarman II.

The king's third act was to build a temple-mountain (or complete a construction begun by Jayavarman III[10]) which he dedicated to a liṅga called after himself. Cœdès identified thirteen Angkorian kings after Indravarman built such shrines for these dual purposes (state and memorial shrine). The shrines were built with stepped pyramid surrounded by lakes. In the centre of the capital of Hariharālaya, Indravarman I built Bakong surrounded by double walled moats. The Bakong was his state shrine, therefore, it also housed the official Śiva's liṅga. Although his shrines are bigger than his predecessors, they are modest compared to the later shrines. It was also the first time in Khmer architecture where nāgas are employed as guardians for the bridge between human world and the temple, house of gods.[10]


Indravarman I died in 889/90 and was succeeded by his son Yaśovarman I, probably after a short but bloody struggle for succession.


  1. ^ Bhattacharya, 2009, pp. 25-41
  2. ^ Pou, 2002, pp. 55-57
  3. ^ Pou, 2002, pp. 41-43
  4. ^ Coedès, The Indianized States of Southeast Asia
  5. ^ Golzio, Karl-Heinz. "Considerations on the Chronology and History of 9th Century Cambodia". Center for Khmer Studies - Siksacakr No 2. Retrieved 2009-11-24. [dead link]
  6. ^ Bhattacharya, 2009, p. 58
  7. ^ Vickery, Michael. "Resolving the Chronology and History of 9th century Cambodia". Center for Khmer Studies - Siksacakr No 3. Retrieved 2009-03-08. [dead link]
  8. ^ Vickery, The Reign of Sūryavarman I and Royal Factionalism at Angkor, Journal of South East Asian Studies 16, pp. 226-244
  9. ^ Golzio, Karl-Heinz. "The Chronology of 9th Century Cambodia reconsidered once more". Center for Khmer Studies - Siksacakr No 4. Retrieved 2009-11-24. [dead link]
  10. ^ a b c Higham, 2001, pp.59-63
  11. ^ Bhattacharya, 2009, p. 31


  • Bhattacharya, Kamaleswar (2009). A Selection of Sanskrit Inscriptions from Cambodia. in collaboration with Karl-Heinz Golzio. Center for Khmer Studies. ISBN 9789995051075. 
  • Higham, Charles (2001). The Civilization of Angkor. Phoenix. ISBN 1-84212-584-2. 
  • Saveros, Pou (2002). Nouvelles inscriptions du Cambodge (in French). Tome II et III. Paris: EFEO. ISBN 2-85539-617-4. 
Preceded by
Emperor of Angkor
Succeeded by
Yaśovarman I