The year 1181 AD marked the beginning of the 38-year reign of King Jayavarman VII, who is recognized for conquering Cambodia’s warring states and uniting them into one Khmer Empire. Supported by his two queens Indradevi and Jayarajadevi, King Jayavaraman VII left the largest territorial imprint in Cambodian history. Numerous temples serving various functions – some as memorials to his parents and others as educational and administrative centers – were built, as well as more than 100 hospitals for the populace and multiple rest stops for weary travelers along roadways.

Most important, these three social pioneers adopted Buddhism over the entrenched Shivaism. King Jayavarman VII, along with Queen Indradevi and Queen Jayarajadevi, created a blueprint for building and transforming an empire into a civilized nation by empowering its inhabitants with healthcare, education, and equal rights for women under the umbrella of their Buddhist models. The efforts of these benevolent Cambodian rulers resulted in sweeping social changes and the transition from a self-serving monarchy to an altruistic sovereignty.

The two Queens and the King had set up the building blocks towards a civilized country for the next generations. A true examplary model that the Khmers unfortunately succumbed in their renewed selfish greed for the successive 800 years. The lesson was not learnt. Repeated downfalls followed to the gory, unglorious Pol Pot's years. There is hope for this current, and next generations once they learn from the past mistakes.