Suryavarman I

Suryavarman I (Khmer: សូរ្យវរ្ម័នទី១; posthumously Nirvanapada) was king of the Khmer Empire from 1006 to 1050.[1]:134–135 Suryavarman usurped King Udayadityavarman I, defeating his armies in approximately 1002. After a protracted war with Udayadityavarman's would-be successor, Jayavarman V,[2] Suryavarman I claimed the throne in 1010. Suryavarman was a Mahayana Buddhist[1]:134 who was also tolerant of the growing Theravada Buddhist presence in the Khmer kingdom.

Suryavarman I
PredecessorJayavarman V
SuccessorUdayadityavarman II
Posthumous name
ReligionMahayana Buddhism
Ruins of Suryavarman I's capital at Phimeanakas


Suryavarman I established diplomatic relations with the Chola dynasty of south India (Tamilnadu) around 1012.[1]:136 Suryavarman I sent a chariot as a present to the Chola Emperor Rajaraja Chola I.[3] It seems that the Khmer king Suryavarman I requested aid from the powerful Chola Emperor Rajendra Chola against Tambralinga kingdom .[4][5] After learning of Suryavarman's alliance with Rajendra Chola, the Tambralinga kingdom requested aid from the Srivijaya king Sangrama Vijayatungavarman.[4][6] This eventually led to the Chola Empire coming into conflict with the Srivijiya Empire. The war ended with a victory for the Chola dynasty and Angkor Wat of the Khmer Empire, and major losses for the Sri Vijaya Empire and the Tambralinga kingdom.[4][7]

His reign lasted some 40 years and he spent much of that time defending it. Known as the "King of the Just Laws," he consolidated his political power by inviting some four thousand local officials to the royal palace and swear an oath of allegiance to him. Suryavarman I favored Buddhism but he allowed the people to continue practising Hinduism. His palace was situated in the vicinity of Angkor Thom, and he was the first of the Khmers rulers to protect his palace with a wall.

In the inscription at Tuol Ta Pec, Suryavarman is said to have known of the principles of the six Vedangas.

Suryavarman I expanded his territory to the west to Lopburi, including the Menam basin in Thailand, and east into the Mekong basin.[1]:136–137

Suryavarman probably started construction at Preah Khan Kompong Svay, and expanded Banteay Srei, Wat Ek Phnom, and Phnom Chisor.[8]:95–96 The major constructions built by this king were the Prasat Preah Vihear, on Dangrek Mountain, and completion of the Phimeanakas and Ta Keo.[1]:135–136 Suryavarman I also started the second Angkor reservoir, the West Baray, which is 8 km long and 2.1 km wide.[9]:371 It held more than 123 million liters of water.[10] This is the largest Khmer reservoir that survives. There is some indication that Suryavarman I sent a gift to Rajendra Chola I the Emperor of the Chola Empire to possibly facilitate trade.[11]

During his reign, 47 cities (known as 47 pura) were under the control of Khmer Empire.[12]

Suryavarman I died in 1050 and was given the posthumous title Nirvanapada ("the king who has gone to nirvana"), a nod to his Buddhist beliefs. He was succeeded by his sons, Udayadityavarman II, who died around 1066 and Harshavarman III (Sadasivapada). The latter continued the struggle against internal rebellions and fought back assaults from the Chams until his death in 1080.

In popular cultureEdit

The video game Age of Empires II HD: Rise of the Rajas contains a five-chapter campaign titled "Suryavarman I".

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e Coedès, George (1968). Walter F. Vella (ed.). The Indianized States of Southeast Asia. trans.Susan Brown Cowing. University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 978-0-8248-0368-1.
  2. ^ "Suryavarman I". Encyclopædia Britannica. 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  3. ^ Indian History by Reddy: p.64
  4. ^ a b c Kenneth R. Hall (October 1975), "Khmer Commercial Development and Foreign Contacts under Sūryavarman I", Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient 18 (3), pp. 318-336, Brill Publishers
  5. ^ Society and culture: the Asian heritage : Juan R. Francisco, Ph.D. University of the Philippines Asian Center p.106
  6. ^ R. C. Majumdar (1961), "The Overseas Expeditions of King Rājendra Cola", Artibus Asiae 24 (3/4), pp. 338-342, Artibus Asiae Publishers
  7. ^ R. C. Majumdar (1961), "The Overseas Expeditions of King Rājendra Cola", Artibus Asiae 24 (3/4), pp. 338-342, Artibus Asiae Publishers
  8. ^ Higham, C., 2001, The Civilization of Angkor, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, ISBN 9781842125847
  9. ^ Higham, C., 2014, Early Mainland Southeast Asia, Bangkok: River Books Co., Ltd., ISBN 9786167339443
  10. ^ Freeman, Michael; Jacques, Claude (2006). Ancient Angkor. River Books. p. 188. ISBN 974-8225-27-5.
  11. ^ Economic Development, Integration, and Morality in Asia and the Americas by Donald C. Wood p.176
  12. ^ Hall, K. R. (2019). Maritime Trade and State Development in Early Southeast Asia. United States: University of Hawaii Press.

External linksEdit

Regnal titles
Preceded by
Jayavarman V
Emperor of Angkor
Succeeded by
Udayadityavarman II