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Prasat Preah Vihear is one of Cambodia’s revered temples located on the plateau of the Dângrêk Mountains in Preah Vihear Province, Cambodia. Preah Vihear belongs to Cambodia, though some of its outer areas are still under Thailand’s control. The temple has beautiful views all around and has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the Khmer Empire, which lasted 6 centuries.
Preah Vihear was constructed in the early 11th century, under the reigns of King Suryavarman I (1002–1050) and King Suryavarman II (1113–1150). The inscription found at the temple provides detailed accounts of Suryavarman II studying sacred rituals, celebrating religious festivals and making gifts, including white parasols, golden bowls and elephants, to his spiritual mentor, the aged Brahman Divakarapandita. The Brahman himself took an interest in the temple, according to the inscription, by donating a golden statue of a dancing Shiva to the temple’s collection.
Although Preah Vihear lay in Cambodia territory under the Sovereignty of Cambodia , the dispute between Cambodia (Khmer) and Thailand (Siam) over the boundary of Preah Vihea dated back to around 1904-1908. In 1904, Cambodia and Thailand formed a joint border commission, the Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission, for the purpose of establishing a treaty to characterise the exact frontier.
According to a meeting on December 2, 1906, the commission decided to travel along the Dângrêk Mountains to survey the whole eastern part of the range to define the exact frontier between Cambodia and Thailand. By autumn of 1907, the map was completed. The map of the Dangrek range shows Preah Vihear to be on the Cambodian side of the frontier.
In 1954, Thai troops invaded Preah Vihear and occupied the temple illegally. In 1959, Cambodia took the incident to the world court, The Hague International Court of Justice, and it was ruled that Preah Vihear is in Cambodia territory.
On June 15, 1962, the judgment delivered by The Hague Internaional Court of Justice, by 9 votes to 3 votes, ruled that the Preah Vihear Temple lay in Cambodia territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia. Thailand must withdraw its forces from the temple and from Cambodia territory. And by 7 votes to 5 votes, The Hague International Court of Justice ruled that Thailand must restore any sculptures, fragments of monuments, sandstone models and ancient pottery, to the temple.
On July, 8 2008, UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee decided to add Prasat Preah Vihear to the World Heritage Site list as the temple had “Outstanding Universal Value.”
On November, 11 2013, The International Court of Justice ruled that “Cambodia had sovereignty over the whole territory of the promontory of Preah Vihear.” Consequently, Thailand was under the obligation to withdraw from that territory.