- Tim Cahill
Preah Khan is a large monastic complex encompassing 56 hectareas (138 acres) built as a monastery and a center for learning by King Jayavarman VII. At its peak it accommodated 15,000 monks, teachers and students and about 100,000 farmers produced rice to feed all the population of the city - complex. As it is the case with other Angkor Temples, the nature has taken its toll over the buildings and large trees have overgrown from the structures. However, the enigmatic Garudas that are the Preah-Khan highlights are in good condition, serving as the mythical guardians of the temple complex. The numerous galleries and passages of Prea Khan offer some great photo opportunities.
Preah Khan is located 2 km northeast of Angkor Thom and about 22 km from Siem Reap town center (33 minutes by car, 45 minutes by Tuk Tuk). Allow yourselve at least an hour and a half to explore the complex. A good way to visit Preah Khan is to arrange for your transport to drop you off at the East Entrance and pick you up at the Western Entrance. You can cross the imposing Procesional Way that will lead you to the outer gateway ornated with magnificent Gopuras. Before entering the temple complex admire the 72 garudas carved on the outer wall, each one of them 5 meters high. A Preah Khan plan can be useful for orientation in the extensive complex.
Built on the 1191AD by King Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman, it originally served as a Buddhist monastery and school. Preah Khan was an entire city that accommodated 100,000 farmers and 15,000 monks, and its subsidiary buildings included a hospital, rest house and a rice granary. For a short period it also served as the residence of King Jayavarman VII during the reconstruction of Angkor Thom. Preah Khan is erected on a battle site where king Jayavarman VII finally defeated the arch-enemy Cham army.
"Preah Khan, the Beguiler, the Romancer, and the artist... it is an entrancing mystery deep in the jungle, soft and alluring in the twilight made by heavy verdure, accesible only to the ardent lover of the past days who is gifted with agility... They may have been courtyards where high priests gathered and guardians slept, but now they are walled bowers over which the trees exted to heaven's blue... it all seems a wondrous mass of beauty tossed together in superb confusion"
"The best way to visit Preah Khan is in the East West direction, for this will allow you to see the temple in the correct sequence. The Processional Way with its deivinities and demons carrying the giant naga, the Gopura images that embelish the gates (specially the imposing third east Gopura), the guarding Garudas, the passages of the imposing Hall of Dancers are only but a few of the treasures you cannot miss on a visit to these arecheological masterpieces "
Peerless service standards and local positioning have made us the tour operator of choice by international luxury travel groups and discerning independent travellers to Angkor Wat, Cambodia and Southeast Asia.