Chenla (Khmer: ចេនឡា), known as "Zhenla" () in Chinese and "Chân Lạp" in Vietnamese, was an early Khmer kingdom.

At first a vassal state to Funan (circa AD 550), over the next 60 years it achieved its independence and eventually conquered all of Funan, absorbing its people and culture. The weakening of the Funan state at this time can largely be explained by distant events: the collapse of the Roman Empire and subsequently trade routes between the Mediterranean and China.

In 613, Isanapura became the first capital of the new empire. Chenla later divided into northern and southern states, known as "Chenla of the Land" and "Chenla of the Sea," respectively. The Champassak province of modern-day Laos was the center of the northern part, while the territory of the Mekong Delta and the coast belonged to the southern part. Several smaller states broke off from Northern and Southern Chenla in 715, further weakening the region.


The Khmers, who are believed to be vassals of Funan had reached the Mekong River from the northern Menam River via the Mun River Valley. Chenla, their first independent state developed out of Funan, absorbing Funanese influence.

Ancient Chinese records mention two kings, Shrutavarman and Shreshthavarman who ruled at the capital Shreshthapura located in modern day southern Laos. The immense influence on the identity of Cambodia to come was wrought by the Khmer Kingdom of Bhavapura, in the modern day Cambodian city of Kompong Thom. Its legacy was its most important sovereign, Ishanavarman who completely conquered the kingdom of Funan during 612-628. He chose his new capital at the Sambor Prei Kuk, naming it Ishanapura.

After the death of Jayavarman I in 681, turmoil came upon the kingdom and at the start of the 8th century, the kingdom broke up into many principalities. Pushkaraksha, the ruler of Shambhupura announced himself as king of the entire Kambuja. Chinese chronicles proclaim that in the 8th century, Chenla was split into land Chenla and water Chenla. During this time, Shambhuvarman son of Pushkaraksha controlled most of water Chenla until the 8th century which the Malayans and Javanese dominated over many Khmer principalities.


ee also

*Zhou Daguan


*cite web|title="Chenla (Pre-Angkor Era)". History of Cambodia|accessdate=June 21, 2004|url=
*cite web|title="The State of Zhenla" History of the Khmer People.|accessdate=April 20, 2006|url=
*"The Treasures of Angkor". ISBN 88-544-0117-X

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