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Preah Khan

Preah Khan of Kampong Svay, or Prasat Bakan, is a massive complex, that is larger than any of the Siem Reap sites, but is rarely visited due to its isolation (it lies about 105 km east of Siem Reap, in Preah Vihear province - please see the Preah Khan Kampong Svay map). The site is spectacular, contained within long earth dykes, and some of the buildings are in surprisingly good condition. To visit Preah Khan Kampong Svay requires significant planning, as the roads are only accessible by 4-wheel drive, and then only in the dry season. This is definitely a place for adventurers who want bragging rights!  

Travel by road in the wet season becomes very complicated and hence it is recommended to visit in the dry season. You can acces the temple from the eastern Baray, which has a cruciform sandstone shrine in the middle (Prah Thkol) and a square pyramid in the Southeast corner of the Baray (Preah Damrei). At the western end of the moat you will come across Prasat Prah Stung, a sactuary containing carved face that resemble those Bayon. A bridge flanked by naga balustrades will take you to the eastern gopura and ahead of this is the cruciform shaped central sanctuary standing on a two tiered platform.


Preah Khan

 

There are few historical data about Preah Khan Kompong Svay. French scholars argued it had been founded in 11th century, probably by Suryavarman I. It was a royal residence during the kingdom of Suryavarman II and even Jayavarman VII lived here, before recapturing the capital city of Yasodharapura from invading Chams in 1181, and improved the complex.

Many famous Khmer sculptures come from here, as the putative head of Jayavarman VII which is exposed at the National Museum of Phnom Penh. The sculptures and carvings of Preah Khan of Kompong Svay are among the peaks of Khmer art and the temples have been widely sacked in the past by official expeditions, like Louis Delaporte's one, whereas thieves have largely damaged many structures while looting sculptures and carvings from the second half of 1990s.


Preah Khan

Christopher Pym writes in 1957...

"Grass was head high. We continued our way southwards along a narrow path, which led to the inner gate of Prah Khan. The central courtyard beyond lay behind a huge heap of fallen masonry tangled with jungle plants. The temple of Prah Khan is still in total ruin, and has not, like Angkor, been restored by the French".