Preah Khan Temple Safari
Preah Khan Temple Safari
2 days / 1 nights
Preah Khan was the largest single temple constructed during the Angkor period and includes some important satellite temples such as the faces of Prasat Preah Stung. Sadly, it was heavily looted during the 1990s. The access roads to this temple can be challenging, adding up to make this an experience more for the dedicated temple hunter. First we visit the lost temple of Beng Mealea is the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Then it’s onto the remote former capital of Koh Ker before we head to Preah Khan for our overnight camp.
- Day 1: Siem Reap to Beng Mealea and Koh Ker and onto Preah Khan Temple Safari
- Day 2: Preah Khan to Siem Reap
Day 1: Siem Reap to Beng Mealea and Koh Ker and onto Preah Khan Temple Safari
We head into the lost temple of Beng Mealea, the titanic of temples, a slumbering giant lost for centuries in the forests of Cambodia. It is the most accessible of Angkor’s lost temples, a mirror image of Angkor Wat, but utterly consumed by the voracious appetite of nature. Constructed by Suryavarman II (1113-1150), the builder of Angkor Wat, the forest has run riot here and it is hard to get a sense of the monument’s shape amid the daunting ruins. It is also possible to visit a nearby Angkor-era quarry from where stone was cut to build these massive monuments.
We then head into the bush to the remote Angkor capital of Koh Ker. The history of Cambodia is riven with dynastic spats and political intrigue and one of the most memorable came in the 10th century when Jayavarman IV (928-942) fell out with his family, stormed off to the northwest and established the rival capital of Koh Ker. Although the capital for just 15 years, Jayavarman IV was determined to legitimise his rule through a prolific building programme that left a legacy of 30 major temples and some gargantuan sculpture that is on display in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
We visit Prasat Thom, a seven-storey step pyramid, more Mayan than Khmer, which has commanding views over the surrounding forest. Nearby is Prasat Krahom or Red Temple, named after the pinkish Banteay Srei-style stone from which it is built. There are many more temples in the area, including the five towers of Prasat Ling, each enclosing a giant linga or fertility symbol, the biggest and best found in situ anywhere in Cambodia.
We continue to the remote complex of Preah Khan, we then return to our camp for the night, spending the night in luxury safari tent.
Day 2: Preah Khan to Siem Reap
After the option of sunrise at the remote temple of Preah Khan. We start to explore this immense temple. This extremely remote temple is often referred to as Preah Khan Kompong Svay by scholars or Prasat Bakan by locals. The largest single enclosure constructed during the age of Angkor, its total area is larger even than that of Angkor Thom and it is believed to have been the second city of the Khmer Empire, where mighty King Jayavarman VII was educated.
There are several principal structures at Preah Khan, including four-faced Prasat Preah Stung, a trademark of Jayavarman VII constructed in the style of the Bayon, and delicate Prasat Damrei, or Elephant Temple, a small pyramid with two elegant carved elephants ceremoniously adorned by locals. The main structure is of gigantic proportions, but has fallen victim to looting in past years due to its remoteness. However, some carvings remain and the extensive outer walls are in solid shape.
We leave some time free to explore more of this vast complex before we head back to Siem Reap for some rest and relaxation after our adventurous journey to remote Cambodia, where we check into our hotel and enjoy some rest and relaxation.