The real attraction lies within
Set just off the road from the east gate to Angkor Wat to Banteay Kdei, with its five squat brick sanctuaries Prasat Kravan looks like a bit of a drab affair, but the real attraction is within.
Rare for Khmer art, the interior of the sanctuaries contain brick bas reliefs of an outstanding standard. At the time of construction, Khmer brickies didn’t use mortar but a vegetable compound instead. This has allowed the bricks to sit very close together and further accentuates the appeal of the bas reliefs. The temple is also unusual for its layout—having five brick towers in a single row.
If you see the occasional CA (it stands for “Conservation Angkor”) on some bricks, you’re looking at one of the bricks that formed a part of the restoration that took place in the late 1960s. The name Prasat Kravan means “Cardamom Sanctuary”, a reference to a large cardamom tree that once grew on the grounds. Conservation and restoration efforts continue.
Prasat Kravan has a twin temple, Prasart Neang Khmao (Sanctuary of the Black Maiden) near Takeo (to the south of Phnom Penh), which also has some very impressive brick bas reliefs.
There’s a large platform on one side and a pond on the other, where you may spot the occasional frog fishing, as we did on our last visit.
Caroline swapped the drizzle of Old Blighty for the dazzling sunshine of Siem Reap and she spends most weekends cycling the temple-studded terrain that she can call her backyard.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
Our top 10 other sights and activities in and around Angkor