Preah Palilay is believed to take its name from Parilyyaka, a forest that features in the stories of Buddha. This theory is supported by the range of Buddhist carvings at the site, including one of Buddha calming an enraged elephant and another depicting the offering of forest animals like monkeys, elephants and birds.
Thought to date back to the reign of Jayavarman VII, Preah Palilay remains a bit of a mystery. With its wealth of Buddhist iconography, it’s considered highly unusual that the site survived the period that followed the death of Jayavarman VII. Instigated by his Hindu successor, Jayavarman VIII, a programme of sanctioned vandalism saw the destruction of many Buddhist icons throughout Angkor, yet Preah Palilay remained largely untouched.
Surrounded by towering trees and nearly always devoid of other visitors, this is a pleasant spot to wander through either before or after Tep Pranam, which sits just a short walk away to the south. There is a Buddhist monastery only a few metres away from the site.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 10th December, 2014.