A small but delightfully proportioned pyramid temple, Baksei Chamkrong is well worth a quick stop if you’re passing by. Set among tall trees between Phnom Bakheng and the south gate of Angkor Thom, it’s an oasis of tranquility — with often plentiful birdlife — before you reach the hectic south gate. It is possible to climb the stairs — with some 60 degrees of steepness no less — to the top where there are inscriptions on either side of the doorway. You’re best off using the staircase at the back (west) and do so at your own risk, of course.
Baksei Chamkrong is one of the few constructions dating to the short reign of Harshavarman I (910 to 922), and was built in honour of his parents — being aptly situated at the foot of his father’s greatest achievement, the temple of Bakheng. There are some well-preserved sandstone carvings including an impressive lintel of Indra riding the three-headed elephant Airavata.
The temple was repaired and re-consecrated by Rajendravarman II in 948 after a period of civil war had caused extensive damage to the capital of Yasodharapura. Once enclosed by a brick wall and an imposing gopura guarded by lions, only traces remain. You can still see what is left of the lions.
The temple is slightly set back on the left from the main road leading to the south gate of Angkor Thom. You can exit the temple from its north side along a short forest path which delivers you in just a matter of metres to Prasat Bei, a similarly little, and little-visited temple. Walk parallel to the moat of Angkor Thom and you will loop back to the south gate of Angkor Thom – having experienced a blissful few moments of peace and quiet without the crowds.
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