Rambling and exquisite
What we say:
While largely cleared of overgrowth, Preah Kham can be one of the most rewarding temples to visit, particularly in late afternoon or early morning when chances are you will have the entire place to yourself.
Completed in 1191, the fascinating site of Preah Khan was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his father (he dedicated nearby Ta Phrom to his mother). Inscriptions also make reference to a lake of blood, which could refer to a battle in the area during the expelling of the Cham from Angkor. (The Cham king was killed where Preah Khan now stands). Thought to have been a religious university, when completed Preah Khan was home to in excess of 1,000 teachers, and had its own baray which ran out to the east of the site, but which has since run dry.
Sitting among the ruins here, watching the sun set through the trees surrounded by bird-filled skies can be truly magical (until the security guards chuck you out, anyway). The inner sanctuary here, like many of Jayavarman VII's creations, is a hodgepodge maze of ponds and shrines, and while there is a straightforward path that you can take walking due east or west, there is no shortage of minor trails and pathways that you can wander through.
Some of the apsaras here remain in excellent condition as do a couple of the lintels. The central stupa that sits in the central sanctuary is particularly photogenic. Most people enter Preah Khan from the west, but it is easily done from the east as well. Whichever way you do it, it is a good idea to ask your moto to wait for you at the other side to save you having to walk back.
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