Sambor Prei Kuk is a do-not-ignore destination for tourists when traveling to Cambodia. This is rarely one of the most ancient temple complexes from the pre-Angkorian period found in the distant jungle.
Where is Sambor Prei Kuk located
Sambor Prei Kuk is a very interesting site in tour packages in Cambodia including the temples in the earliest Angkorian era found in the province of Kampong Thom. It is 35 km out of the main town, and about 120 km from Siem Reap. There are 3 principal groups in the site, the Prasat Sambor, Prasat Tao, and Prasat Yeay Poeun.
Sambor Prei Kuk temple
History of Sambor Prei Kuk
The ancient city of Sambor Prei Kuk was identified as Isanapura which was the capital of Chenla kingdom existing in the territory of Cambodia in the 7th century. Chenla was one of the first states in Southeast Asia, and Chenla became powerful after they defeated King Citrasena Mahendravarman of Funan in the 7th century.
Henceforth this kingdom became the strongest state and controlled the large land including the whole of Cambodia nowadays. Furthermore, the kings of Chenla ordered to build more and more monuments in their capital. A century after the death of Jayavarman I who is considered as the last known king of this kingdom in the second half of the 7th century opened up a dark period in the history of Chenla. According to Chinese compilation, in the 8th century, the country of Chenla was divided into two smaller countries, Land Chenla and Water Chenla. This monument might be neglected from that time.
When is the best time to get there
Because Cambodia is a tropical country, it is good to visit this place all year round. However, the early morning is considered the best time to visit, that time shows the temples in their best light. The journey from Siem Reap is a quite long, so we'd recommend that tourists should rent the accommodation near the site the day before.
What to see in Sambor Prei Kuk
Prasat Sambor Group
There are 11 sanctuaries separated from each other with the one at the middle and had two-wall rampart found in the northern sanctuary group. Most of the sanctuaries in this group were built of brick and limestone with the beautiful carvings in the real Khmer style. The subtlety of this structures has proven the real Khmer talent who transformed the rude brick into the artistic masterpieces. This period along with the Khmer empire are considered as two of the most glorious and flourishing time of Cambodia in the historical pages of this country. Every great achievement in the aspects of both architecture and art were in the Angkor civilization period.
The sanctuary contains 14 temples but there are only 8 temples remaining nowadays, and this complex was surrounded by the two-wall rampart. These temples were constructed in various plans-square and octagonal shapes. At the top of the temple, you can see the lotus petals carved in the sandstone, but throughout the destruction of time, some parts were cracked down and dropped on the ground.
A temple in Prasat Sambor Group
This group is located in the center of the sanctuary complex. It contains 6 temples around 1 main temple. In the Khmer language, the 'Tao' means 'lion' in the Khmer implying to the lions standing in front of each of 4 entrances of the main temple.
The rampart outside was made of laterite with the total length of 328 meters, the width of 310 meters and the surface of 101,650 square meters.
In this rampart, you can see the gopura in two directions, the entrances that are connected by the other laterite ramparts. In between rampart 2 and 1, there was a rectangular pond, this pond was used to balance the water in the city in the past. The pond was spread by laterite on the ground and the stepped stairs, but the small stairs of the southern side are made of sandstone.
Now the pond is empty during the dry season. When you enter from the eastern Gopura on either side of the road, you can easily see two sanctuary hills.
A temple in Prasat Tao
Prasat Yeay Poeun
Prasat Yeai Poeun Group covered a total of 22 sanctuaries with two wall rampart, and like the other structures in the complex, it was built of brick, laterite and sandstone in rectangular shape from in 7th century during the reigning time of the king Isanavarman I. They were built on the top of a low hill with Gopura from the two main entrances, the west, and east, looking to an outside laterite rampart.
Visiting Cambodia via Laos Cambodia tour, you will have a chance to witness the old beauty of temples and know more about the values of tradition and culture of this beautiful country. Don’t hesitate to take your backpack and come to Cambodia right now, it is worth trying once. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Have a nice trip!