Angkor 'replica' plan angers Cambodia

Cambodia has sent a protest to the government of India asking it to prevent the building of a replica of Angkor Wat.

The Foreign Ministry's diplomatic note, a copy of which was seen by Kyodo News, said Cambodia had learned that Mahavir Mandir, a Hindu trust based in the eastern Indian state of Bikar, plans to build a replica of gthe 12th century temple complex there.

"The Royal Government of Cambodia considers that this copy of Angkor Wat temple for commercial benefit seriously violates the world heritage which is of a universal and exceptional value of humanity," the ministry said in the note addressed to India's Ministry of External Affairs.

It strongly requested that India seriously and urgently address the issue to prevent traditional historical relations between the two countries and peoples from being undermined.

The Indian trust says on its website that the massive temple it plans to build on land acquired 60 kilometres outside the ancient city of Vaishali, in western Bihar, would replace Angkor Wat as the largest Hindu temple in the world.

It says the name has been changed from Viraat Angkor Wat Ram Mandir to Viraat Ramayan Mandir "to respect the sentiments of the Cambodian people".

"When this project is completed, it will cement further the strong bond between the two culturally rich countries India and Cambodia" that has existed for two millennia, it says.

The Cambodian Foreign Ministry said in its protest letter that Angkor Wat, a Unesco World Heritage Site, has always been the symbol of Cambodia.