Fun things to do in Khett Kampong Thum

  • Sign at Turn to Sambor Prei Kuk
    Sign at Turn to Sambor Prei Kuk
    by AlbuqRay
  • Road to Sambor Prei Kuk
    Road to Sambor Prei Kuk
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  • Past a Lake with Water Buffalo Swimming
    Past a Lake with Water Buffalo Swimming
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Khett Kampong Thum

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    Annotated Sambor Prei Kuk Map

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 26, 2010

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    The three temple groups of Sambor Prei Kuk cover a large area but they may be toured by walking. The Canby Publications map is quite good, except the admission turned out to be 2 USD instead of 3. The self-guided walking tour that we did is marked on the map. We started at Prasat Yeah Puon (South Group), then went to the Lion Temple in Prasat Tor (Central Group), and finished with Prasat Sambor (North Group), which is next to the parking area. However, we did not allow enough time and missed some things like Prasat Asram Isay (N17), the oldest structure and Prasat Chrey (N18), which is almost completely overgrown by a large tree. Both are on the north side of the access road across from the parking area.

    The Kingdom of Cambodia Ministry of Tourism says:

    "The ancient city where monuments of Sambo Prei Kuk are found today was identified as ISANAPURA, the capital of Chenla in 7th century. Chenla was a former vassal of the Funan kingdom that was one of the first state in Southeast Asia, but it gradually gained its power and eventually King Citrasena Mahendravarman of Funan in the early 7th century.

    Main archaeological features in these groups of monuments are said to have been founded by king ISANAVARMAN I, the son of king Citrasena. Many decorative details in Khmer architecture and sculpture are classified as Sambor style: the name was derived from these monuments dated in the first half of the 7th century. Henceforth this kingdom was the leading state and comprised the whole of Cambodia proper. Furthermore, several successions of kings’ reign might have maintained these monuments as their capital city. The century following the death of JAYAVARMAN I who is the last known king of this kingdom in the second half of the 7th century is a dark period in the history of Chenla. According to a Chinese accounts, in the 8th century, the country of Chenla was divided into land and water Chenlas. The obscurity prevails and this monument might be neglected thereafter. The history. However, is traced again with the accession of JAYAVARMAN II, who founded a new polity that is now referred as Angkor in the beginning of 9th century. Decorative details of Prasat Tao (Central Group) are similar to the style of the remains belong to the period of the king JAYAVARMAN II, Particularly, characteristic lion statues resembles the statues found in Phnom Penh. From these reasons this architectural complex is said to be constructed in this period.

    Furthermore some inscriptions in Prasat Sambor (Northern Group) are dated in the 10th century under the reign of the king RAJENDRA VARMANII. And Robang Romeas group that is located about 2km northward from main temple area, contains other inscriptions of the king SURYAVARMAN I period. Some other decorative details and statues belong to the late Angkor period styles were confirmed from these temples. These historical evidences suggest that these monuments must have belonged to the important provincial principle city after Pre Angkor period.

    From above historical perspective, this group of monuments is extremely significant not only for Cambodia but also for the entire area of Southeast Asia, for they are the only remaining sound architectural constructions that exemplify the architecture and sculpture of the early period in sizable quantity."

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    Sambor Prei Kuk Parking Area and Market

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    It was about 4:30 PM on a Friday (19 Feb 2010) when we arrived at Sambor Prei Kuk and we left around 5:30 PM. We were the only visitors at the whole site during that time. Although we stopped at the Welcome Center on the way in to pay my admission and use the restrooms, we did not go to the market area while we were there.

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    Birthplace of Khmer Art

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 24, 2010

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    Sambor Prei Kuk was the first temple city in Asia and is considered the birthplace of Khmer art, since the earliest existing examples came from this site. The Statue of Durga is one of the more famous. It was found in N9 in Prasat Sambor (North Group). The original is now in the National Museum but there is a replica inside N9. The statue is of a semi-nude woman and now has no head or arms. Some compare the Statue of Durga to the ancient Greek statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, but to me it is reminiscent of Venus de Milo.

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    Linga at N14-2

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    The marker at the N14-2 Tower site says:

    "During the pre-Angkor period, Shiva was primarily worshipped in the form of a stone linga. The Khmers' perceived resemblance of Shiva to an indigenous god of the soil allowed them to associate Shiva more easily with a linga shaped stone than an anthropomorphic image."

    N14-2 was excavated in 2005 and the pedestal with a linga was found. The real linga has been replaced with a replica.

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    Central Tower of Prasat Sambor (N1)

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    Prasat Sambor (North Group) is the main temple group at Sambor Prei Kuk. It is dedicated to Gambhireshvara, which is one of Shiva's many incarnations. There are a series of lingas around the central tower (N1) that show the Hindu influence. In Feb 2010, N1 was being restored and we were unable to get close to it.

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    Un-Named Tower in Prasat Sambor

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    There is a tower in the southwest corner of the outer courtyard of Prasat Sambor (North Group) that has not been assigned a code. It may be because it has not been excavated. It is close to the only octagon-shaped tower in the North Group, N7.

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    Highway NH64 North from NH6

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 24, 2010

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    It is quite easy to get to the Sambor Prei Kuk access road from Kampong Thom. It takes less than one hour. Just take NH6 north toward Siem Reap for ~5 km and continue north on NH64 for ~11 km. NH6 is paved and NH64 was under construction in Feb 2010 and may be paved by now.

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    Access Road to Sambor Prei Kuk

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 24, 2010

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    At the sign shown in the first picture turn east on the new road. The new road is not paved but it is in excellent condition. It is ~14 km to Sambor Prei Kuk on this new access road. Foreigners need to stop at the small Welcome Center just before the bridge and pay a 2 USD entry fee. There are public restrooms at the Welcome Center.

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    Lion Temple in Prasat Tor (Central Group)

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 23, 2010

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    The Lion Temple (C1) is essentially the only tower still existing in the Central Group. One of the girls guiding us said that the temples were gone from "nature and bombing." Sadly, the US Air Force bombed this site during the 1970's while supporting the Lon Nol government's unsuccessful fight against the Khmer Rouge. C1 is named for the Chenla-style stone lions that guard the door on the east side of the temple. See also a travelogue with more scenes of the Lion Temple architecture.

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    S5 Gate of Prasat Yeah Puon

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 23, 2010

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    The west gate of the inner wall at the South Group is S5. You actually walk through a gap in the wall rather than the west gate itself. There are some really interesting carvings on a piece of the wall south of S5.

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    S1 Tower in Prasat Yeah Puon

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 23, 2010

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    The central tower in the South Group (S1) had many nice carvings outside and a shrine inside. The base of a linga was in the shrine but it was no longer there (probably looted during the Khmer Rouge days). The tower was open in the center all the way to the top.

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    Sambor Prei Kuk - Prasat Yeah Puon

    by AlbuqRay Updated Jul 23, 2010

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    Prasat Yeah Puon is the South Group at Sambor Prei Kuk. It's principal tower (S1) is in the middle behind two concentric walls with other, smaller towers in the two courtyards created by the walls. All three groups (north, south and central) are laid out in the same manner. Most towers and some gates in each group are identified by N, S or C plus a number on signs at the site. The Canby map (see a general tip) also uses these codes. Prasat Yeah Puon is the most forested site and contains several octagonal towers. It was one of the few places where we encountered mosquitoes during the February part of the dry season.

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    N8 and N11 Towers in Prasat Sambor

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    N11 is on the west side of the outer courtyard of Prasat Sambor and N8 is in the northwest corner of the inner courtyard.

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    Only Octagonal Tower in Prasat Sambor (N7)

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 24, 2010

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    Although there are several octagonal towers in Prasat Yeah Puon (South Group), there is only one in the North Group, N7.

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    Prasat Tor Reservoir at Sambor Prei Kuk

    by AlbuqRay Written Jul 23, 2010

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    There was a small reservoir in the northeast corner of the inner courtyard at Prasat Tor; however, it was essentially dry. Maybe it fills up during the rainy season.

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