Inauguration of Conservation of Ramayana Paintings at Wat Raja Bo Pagoda

Embassy of India

Phnom Penh Press Release

Inauguration of Conservation of Ramayana Mural Paintings at Wat Raja Bo Pagoda

      On November 3rd, 2023 the inauguration of the Conservation of Ramayana Mural Paintings at Wat Raja Bo Pagoda took place in Siem Reap. The event was graced by the presence of HE Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, Hon'ble Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India to Cambodia, and DG APSARA Dr. Hang Peou.

2.    Wat Raja Bo holds great historical and cultural significance for both India and Cambodia as it is linked to the ancient Indian epic, the Ramayana. The epic tale from India, Ramayana, has traversed borders and found its place in the hearts of people across the globe. Wat Raja Bo pagoda is one of the oldest pagodas in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and has a number of Ramayana mural paintings on walls that describe the famous ancient story of Rama and Sita. However, with the passage of time, environmental factors and human activities have caused the Ramayana murals to deteriorate. The Government of India, in collaboration with the Royal Government of Cambodia, took this project as a priority. The financial agreement for the conservation of mural paintings was signed on November 12, 2022, during the visit of India's Vice-President, Shri Jagdeep Dhankhar.

3.    Speaking on the occasion Ambassador stated that the conservation of Wat Raja Bo not only preserves the architectural value of the temple complex but also celebrates the shared heritage and enduring influence of the Ramayana on both Indian and Cambodian cultures. The Government of India looks forward to collaborating closely with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other stakeholders involved in this project. Together, we aspire to breathe new life into Wat Raja Bo, preserving its historical significance and promoting cultural understanding between our nations.

4.    Ambassador mentioned the Government of India's initiative in Southeast Asia on the Ramayana circuit, which aims to encourage religious and other cultural tourism by connecting destinations associated with the ancient Hindu epic Ramayana. Under this project, India intends to create a tourist circuit connecting key Ramayana sites in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and Indonesia. India believes that by promoting the Ramayana circuit, increased tourism will provide job opportunities and develop cultural interchange among the participating countries.

5.    Ambassador Dr. Devyani Khobragade highlighted the close partnership between the APSARA Authority and the Embassy of India in the fields of archaeology, conservation, and research. She emphasized India's continuous support to Cambodia's political and development journey.

6.    Addressing the gathering, Excellency Dr. Phoeurng Sackona, Hon'ble Minister of Culture and Fine Arts officially announced the commencement of the Indian Government- funded Mural Painting Conservation and Restoration Project at Raja Bo Pagoda. Excellency Dr. Phoeurng Sackona stated that both countries aspire to breathe new life into Raja Wat Bo, this conservation will preserve the historical significance of Ramayana and also will promote cultural understanding between our nations as Ramayana has connected India and Cambodia since ancient times. Additionally, on the occasion, an MoU on Training and Workshop on Museum Management and Textiles Conservation at Mekong Ganga Asian Traditional Textile Museum” was also signed.

7.   The Mekong-Ganga Cooperation Asian Traditional Textiles Museum was opened in April 2014. Cambodia, India, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam are the member countries involved in this museum. The museum features a brief overview of traditional textiles from the two river cultures. Both the Ganga and the Mekong are Civilization Rivers, and the MGC initiative aims to facilitate closer contact among the people inhabiting these two major river basins. This training and workshop on Museum management and Textile conservation program will increase the skills of staff, which will help the museum to be an excellent interpretation center to ensure the visitor a better understanding through state-of- the-art technologies.

03 rd November 2023

Phnom Penh