Preah Khan

sights / Religious

Preah Khan information

Preah Khan , Cambodia
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From Prasat Preah Stung, the Preah Khan Temple Enclosure access road leads 400m southwest to the magnificently well-preserved eastern gopura (entrance pavilion) of Preah Khan itself, which is surrounded by a (now dry) moat similar to the one around Angkor Thom. Once through the grand gateway, a trail meanders past a dharmasala (pilgrim's rest house) and through another crumbling pavilion to the central temple area of half-toppled prangs (temple towers), entangled with trees and overgrown by forest.

As recently as the mid-1990s, the central structure was thought to be in reasonable shape, but at some point in the second half of the decade, looters arrived seeking buried statues under each prang . Assaulted with pneumatic drills and mechanical diggers, the ancient temple never stood a chance – many of the towers simply collapsed in on themselves, leaving the mess we see today. Once again a temple that had survived so much couldn’t stand the onslaught of the 20th century and its all-consuming appetite.

Among the carvings found at Preah Khan was the bust of Jayavarman, now in Phnom Penh’s National Museum and widely copied as a souvenir for tourists. The body of the statue was discovered in the 1990s by locals who alerted authorities, making it possible for a joyous reunion of head and body in 2000.

Most locals refer to this temple as Prasat Bakan; scholars officially refer to it as Bakan Svay Rolay, combining the local name for the temple and the district name. Khmers in Siem Reap often refer to it as Preah Khan-Kompong Svay.