It is very interesting to find out a mysterious link between the Indian state of Karnataka and a South East Asian country Cambodia. This is an ancient link but existing till today. In both these places we find the sculptures SAHASRA LINGA, literally translated one thousand Lingas. Linga is the shapeless form of Hindu God Shiva.
Cambodia is famous for its Angkor Watt temple. This is the largest Hindu temple in the world outside India. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and full of beautiful sculptures. It is a historical fact that the Hindus ruled various parts of South East Asia for 1300 years from 1st century AD. But not many people noticed the mystery of Sahasra Linga.
Sahasra Linga is located seventeen kilometres from Sirsi In the northern part of Karnataka known as Uttara Kanara. One can see hundreds of Shivalingas carved in stones and rocks in the middle of the river. The river is called Shalmala. All the statues are washed by this holy river water for ever. During Hindu festival Shivratri thousands of pilgrims visit this place and offer pujas. One advantage of visiting this place during Shivratri is the water level in the river is low and most of the Lingas are visible with their bases called Yonis. No one knew when and who carved them. People visit this spot for its scenic beauty as well. This place is situated in the middle of forest in the Western Ghats.
There is another place in Cambodia with the same name Sahasra Linga and there also the carved Shiva Lingas are in the middle of a river. The only difference is nobody worships it in Cambodia but tourists visit his place out of curiosity and to enjoy nature.
Cambodian Sahasralinga is located 25 kilometres from Angkor watt. There are statues of Hindu gods Lakshmi, Rama and Hanuman in addition to the Lingas. The place is called Kbal Spean and its meaning is ‘the Head Bridge’. Unlike Karnataka this place is not easily accessible. Tourists have to climb very hard and rough rocks. They have to go via a stone bridge. Animal figures are also carved on the side rocks. The river Slung Kbal Spean is flowing from Kulen mountains. There is a fifty feet high water falls which adds beauty to this holy spot. Long ago the kings used to come here for holy bath. No one knew who carved these lingas and for what purpose. But the tourists are told that the Lingas are symbols of creative energy and the river water that flows on the lingas will make the Cambodian paddy fields more fertile. A lot of Hindu symbols were destroyed during the civil war in Cambodia. But these Sahasra Lingas were not affected because of the surrounding thick forest. Those who wanted to travel to this place leave from Banteasy Srei and travel 12 kilometres and then walk for 45 minutes through rough terrain. The area is closed for tourists around 3 pm.
One of the remarkable sculptures here is of Maha Vishnu and Brahma emerges from his belly on a lotus flower. It is very heartening to see Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, all the three greats of the Hindu Trinity at the same place.
Any one who wants to see the pictures can see them on You Tube and images through google websites. Just type Sahasralinga in Karnataka and Sahasralinga in Kbal Spean you will see the beautiful images and videos.
Now the question is how come the same name and the same sculptures exist in two different places which are wide part by thousands of miles? Who and Why did they carve them? Neither the Indians nor the Cambodians knew. But if we dig deeper we can find the answers. I have shown somewhere (Please read my articles Did Agastya drink the ocean under Brahamastra – a nuclear weapon? And my other article The Pandya King who ruled Vietnam) that Agastya was associated with the Pandyas in many copper plate inscriptions of the Pandyas and the famous Raghuvamsa Kavya of Kalidas. He led the Pandyas and other South Indian kings to South Asian countries two thousand years ago. He was the torch bearer of Hindu culture. Since those people were without a religion and culture Sage Agastya civilised them. This was not invasion but cultural expansion. As a token of gratitude Agastya statues were installed by the local people in different countries in South East Asia. Even before the British reached these areas French archaeologists and historians went to do a lot of research and published books on the temples. Anyone who has access to those French books can see the pictures of Agastya statues.
It is a well recognised fact that all the South East Asian scripts are evolved from Indian Brahmi. All Indian scripts also evolved from the same Brahmi. The Pallava script contributed to most of the S E Asian scripts. If one places the pictures of Pallava temples and S E Asian temples the similarity can’t be missed . And if one places more pictures from the Central American Maya temples the link can be easily established. So we can assume that the culture travelled from South India towards S E Asia and then to Central and South America. There is even mention of 1000 pillar Hall/Mandap in the Maya culture.
There are more Sahasralingas in India. For instance Pathan in North Gujarat has one Sahasralinga. But because of the foreign invasions followed by destructions only a 48 pillar mandap exists today with few lingas.
Sahasralinga also means one thousand linga forms on the face of a single big linga. The best of the Sahasralingas of this type is seen in Parasurameshwara Temple in Bhuvaneswar,Orissa.