- Carlo Goldoni
Preah Khan Kampong Svay or Prasat Bakan as it was originally pronounced (Preah Khant is a mispronunciation of the French) is the largest temple complex found in Cambodia. Four times the size of Angkor Wat, it occpupies an area of 5 square kilometers and it comprises 4 enclosure walls, the central sancturary, a baray and various buldings and basins. Located 105 kilometers from Siem Reap, it is a remote temple and it receives very few visitors if compared with other Angkor Temples.It has undergone some restoration works but it remains very much in its natural state and it is a rewarding site for those who venture all the way here.
The comples is within a distance of 105 kilometers from Siem Reap, in the Preah Vihear province, and it can only be accessed either by helicopter or an all terrain vehicle as the road is in a very bad condition. Travel by road in the wet season becomes very complicated and hence it is recomended to visit in the dry season. You can access 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.
There is not much information about this temple complex. archaeologists place its building in the 11th century with additions into the 12th century. It is possible that the site served as the homes of both the King Suryavarman II and the future King Jayavarman VII before he defeated the Chams and move the capital to Angkor in AD1181. In 1870s Louis Delaporte, a member of the Mekong exploration Comission that studied the Angkor temples, appropriated many sculptures and art works and removed many carvings from the site which are now exposed in the Guimet Museum in Paris.
"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"
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