- Freya Stark
Preah Palilay in Cambodia is a fairly decrepit but nevertheless very attractive temple which can be found tucked away from the hustle and bustle of many of the larger Angkor temples with its serene shaded forest setting and jungle surroundings. Around the temple you will inevitably spot many monks and nuns going about their business, giving the temple a sensation of being an active place of worship, and having a present day connection with history. As well as great photo opportunities where enthusiasts can capture the bright oranges of monks' robes and lush green jungle backdrops in harmony with the temple, other Preah Palilay Temple Highlights include some intricate Buddhist themed carvings and the impressive laterite tower which adorns the temple.
Distance from Siem Reap to Preah Palilay Temple is 11.1km (17 minutes by car, 28 mins by Tuk Tuk and one hour by bicycle). From Siem Reap, take the Charles De Gaulle Road northbound then turn left at Angkor Wat moat. Continue through Angkor Wat toward Bayon and after 3.5km turn right toward Terrace of the Leper King, and from here, unless you are cycling, you cannot enter directly into the site with a vehicle so will need to walk the last 400 meters. You can visit Preah Palilay at any time of the day, but we recommend late afternoon as the temple is at its most peaceful, and you can combine the trip with the temples of Angkor Thom. An expert local tour guide from Siem Reap will ensure you get the very best from your visit and the journey between Siem Reap and the site.
It is widely believed and accepted in Cambodia that Preah Palilay was constructed by King Jayavarman VII as a Buddhist temple in the late 12th century, although some people argue that the Theravadan themes depicted in some of the carvings and building structure suggest it was built some hundred years later. Hindu reaction to the temple was fierce and the Buddha was removed from the temple, before the Khmer returned to reclaim it. It was reconstructed in the post-Bayon period.
"Setting off down the oblique path behind Tep Pranam, towards the north-west, one comes in 150 metres to the foot of a small terrace from where one can see the Buddha preceding the entrance, the gopura, and the sanctuary itself of Prah Palilay, surrounded by the soaring silk cotton trees which provide a particularly dramatic setting."
"This temple seems to be able to make you almost see history and the life of the temple reliving itself. With the presence of the monks, and its more peaceful and detached location, you can let your mind wander and imagine the daily life and worship of a civilisation dating back eight centuries. Enjoy the serenity of the jungle and the energy the temple exerts over its surroundings"
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