Located near the south-west corner of the West Baray, Ak Yum was the centre of a city and a regional pre-Angkorian kingdom, constructed in the 8th century. It is the first pyramid temple.
Little has remained as earth masses from the nearby dike of the Baray (built about 1050) have almost completely buried the temple.
- Bruguier, Bruno, Le Prasat Ak Yum, BE
Date Mid-11th century
This vast temple complex is located south-east of Phnom Bok, at the ancient road to Beng Mealea and Preah Khan of Kampong Sway.
The central sanctuary covers the top of a natural hill: a tower and two fire shrines, framed by galleries with four gates.
In the south-west of the compound is a courtyard, framed by galleries, and water basin is nearby; the function is unknown. One can find similar structures at Beng Mealea.
A laterite wall, with four big gate pavilions in the cardinal directions, frames the outer enclosure.
Parts of the wide moat are still under water. They were a part of Angkor’s irrigation system.
There are no inscriptions, fragments of reliefs are in the style of Baphuon, mid-11th century.
The temple was heavily destroyed; we do not know when this happened and who did it.
The place is nice in the afternoon and good for a picnic. Nobody has removed fallen stones, thus climbing in the ruins necessitates strong shoes. Be careful!
You do not need a guide, but your Angkor ticket may be checked.
500 m north-east of Angkor Wat are the meagre remains of Kapilapura
There were two small brick towers with mandapas, orientated east. and another building with a rectangular ground plan.
By the inscription we know that this temple was consecrated in 968 (reign of Rajendravarman or Jayavarman V) and probably dedicated to Vishnu.
- The remains of a small looted or vandalized Ganesha statue.
- A “Yoni” with a remarkable snanodroni.
The temple, now almost forgotten in the forest, was originally centrally located, less than 2 km from the Phnom Bakheng
- Briggs, p. 139, 141.
Date Inscriptions from 11th century
Function Water sanctuary
Kbal Spean is the name of the mountain north-west of the Phnom Kulen; the river that is a tributary to the Siem Reap River, has this name, and also the water sanctuary in this river.
Flowing over square Yonis and latticed reliefs of Lingas, and touching reliefs of the Reclining Vishnu and other Gods, the water gets sanctified, before irrigating the Angkor plain.
Kbal Spean is located 8 km north of Banteay Srei.
From the entrance (Angkor Ticket required), it is a 30-minutes foot walk uphill.
There is a fine waterfall; bring swimming dress with you.
Visit Kbal Spean in the morning, then Banteay Srei, the East Mebon, Banteay Samré or Pre Rup.
Date 8th century
Orientation West and north
Cult Hindu: Vishnu
Located exactly north of Ak Yum and contemporary, the temple was a part of the pre-Angkorian city Amarendrapura
Now its ruins are in a secluded area north of the western part of the West Baray.
There were four brick towers. C was the oldest, facing west.
The other towers were from the late 9th century; they were facing north.
Located just north of Banteay Kdei, the temple shows the poor remains of three brick towers, and an enigmatic lintel on the ground.
There was a lot of rumor about the history and the name of the temple.
The Phnom Kulen (“Litchi Mountain”) is a sandstone plateau, northeast of Angkor, 320 to 380 m above sea level. Here are the sources of rivers flowing to the plains of Angkor
Mahendraparvata is an ancient city on the Phnom Kulen.
An inscription of 1053 says that Jayavarman II (802–835) founded the Kingdom of Cambodia in Mahendraparvata, which then was his capital. Some temples may be older.
The Temples of Mahendraparvata
Built about 800 AD.
The best known are:
Prasat O Pha-Ong
Prasat Rong Chen, or Krus Preah Aram Rong Chen
Prasat Damrei Krap, the central tower was built by a Cham architect.
Prasat Anlong Thom
Prasat Neak Ta
Prasat Bos Neak
Prasat Thma Dap or O Thmei Dap,
Prasat Khting Slap
Prasat Trung Khla Khmum
River of the Thousand Lingas
Linga reliefs in the bed of a river, c. 1 km west of Preah Thom.
Prasat Kraol Romeas
The temple is locally called Prasat Toek Thlea, “Temple at the Waterfall”. It is built of laterite and from the Bayon era. The surrounding enclosure wall is cut through by a river. In the water are some reliefs.
The temple is in poor condition. Picnic shelters disfigure the site.
A few meters down, there is a waterfall.
The relief on top of a big sandstone boulder shows the transcendent Buddha.
Here, the Buddha is lying on his left side; this is against the Canon of Buddhism by which the transcending Buddha MUST lie on his right side.
In presume that this was originally a relief of the reclining Vishnu; laterit was turned Buddhist.
“Dams” with drainage ditches cut into the bedrock.
At the edge of the Kulen plateau are some huge sculptures of unknown age, showing animals like an elephant, lions, a frog and a bull. There is a fantastic view of the plain of Angkor.
Peung Preah Chup
At the junction, before the checkpoint, you turn right, towards Beng Mealea. After 6.5 km is Wat Prohm Bram Bei (“Eight Brahmas”) on the left. Leave your vehicle at a shop at the foot of the concrete stairway. After some 20 minutes easy walk you are at Wat Preah Cup, a sacred spring, (bring a bottle with you) and a swimming pool. The relief shows the Buddha standing between a kneeling elephant and a coiled Naga. It looks like a clumsy copy and may be from the 16th century or later. There is also a shrine for Neak Ta (ancestor spirits).
From there a stairway climbs to the plateau, a fine walk again; first to the “Thousand Lingas” (c. 2.5 km), then to Preah Thom, no entrance fee.
French archaeologists explored Mahendraparvata from the 1930s onwards and described temples.
In 2012/13, researchers discovered, with the aid of airborne laser scanning technology called LIDAR, that Mahendraparvata was many times more extended.
From Angkor, you follow the road from Preah Dak village to the north. At the junction 2 km before Banteay Srei you keep right. After the next junction is a checkpoint, it is closed at 12 am.
Foreigners pay $ 20 tolls per person to the private owner of the road. See also Peung Preah Coup.
- Trudy Jacobsen, Lost Goddesses, The Denial of Female Power in Cambodian History, 2008. P. 28-31.
- Martin Polkinghorne, Decorative Lintels and Ateliers at Mahendraparvata and Harihar?laya, in Materializing Southeast Asia’s Past: Selected Papers from the 12th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists. 2013.
The “Phnom-Kulen” Scam
Agents, guides, and drivers may be very keen to bring you there, and to make money with you.
Preah Thom is not “consecrated ground” or the “cradle of Cambodia”, which is in Mahendraparvata. Preah Thom is much later than Mahendraparvata and has nothing to do with that.
The trip is not worth 20 $, or a day of your stay in Angkor.
Preah Thom is a profit-orientated, unfriendly, dirty place, with poor food stalls and no toilets. There are a lot of local visitors, mainly on the weekends.
Date Inaugurated 953
Function Private temple
The temple, displaying three towers on a platform, is captivating with his location in an open landscape.
The builder-owner has also built the baray Srah Srang and the East Mebon.
Located some 10 km northwest of Angkor Thom, the Prasat Char has three towers built of brick and laterite, with richly ornamented door posts of sandstone.
The towers are raised on artificial hill and enclosed by a moat, 60 m square, and an earth dam of some 550 m square.
The inscriptions date from 979 and 994 AD, reign of Jayavarman IV.
The prasat is remote, but a picturesque site.
- Aymonier 1999, p. 193-195.
How I stumbled across an un-discovered Prasat
Located 240 m southwest of Prasat Don Can (a temple west of Beng Mealea) is the ruin of a temple. Three towers were lined-up north-south, and opened to the east. The central tower was made of sandstone. Only traces remain of the lateral towers and of two fire shrines, which were all built of brick. The towers are raised by a man-made hillock. In the North and South of the hillock are traces of a moat, some 12 m wide. The cella of the central tower measures inside 1.90 m east-west und 2.20 m north-south.
On the ground are scattered: a ruined lintel, three conic spires of sandstone, as well as fragments of octagonal colonnettes, balusters, and lion statues.
Local people call this place Prasat Kuk Troap. GPS coordinates: N13 28.330 E104 13.202
400 m northwest of Prasat Don Can is a rock, shaped like a mushroom. At the base of the rock to the east is some masonry of laterite. The site is called Prasat Rung Romeas. GPS coordinates: N13 28.530 E104 13.102
Thick vegetation is covering the sites most of the year. Only at the end of the dry season after the brushwood was burnt down the ruins are accessible for some weeks.
I have visited these sites at April 1, 2004, and at March 3, 2008. The sites are so far not registered or mentioned in the archaeological map.
Good road from Siem Reap (RN 6), 60 km. Entrance fee $5, Angkor Pass is unnecessary and not valid.
- Briggs, p. 184-187.
- Freeman/Jacques, p. 200-223.
- Roveda 2005, p. 390-92.
- CAC, Groupe de Beng Mealea, 2007. (From there to map.)
CAC, Province de Siem Reap, 2007
- Drawing by Delaporte (1880).
Of this temple, located 1.5 km west of the Bakong, only the ground walls have remained, the false doors are decorated with some fine reliefs .
The ruins of three brick towers are located in the East of a rectangular area, which is enclosed by a moat and where traces of a royal residence were unearthed.
The temple is located 6.5 km north-west of central Angkor Thom and surrounded by rice fields.
Three brick towers are lined up north-south and open to the east. The central tower has a mandapa. There are also insriptions. All is in ruins and overgrown. Parts of the north tower, of the central tower, and some door frames of the mandapa are still standing upright.
The site is located just east of the northeast corner of the East Baray.
In the temple we find two towers, orientated east. A mandapa precedes the southern, higher tower
This tower has a lintel showing a god enthroned on Kala; it is in the style of Preah Ko.
Nearby is a neak ta shrine, called Ta Tor, and the canopy of a stele.
Even in the dry season the site is surrounded by green and water.
- Trouvè, G. A., Le Pràsàt Tor, BE 1935, p.202-232.
Some hundred metres north-west of the Bakong are the ruins of three brick towers and a fire shrine. At my first visit 2005 I saw two inscriptions, one of them upside down.
The temple is located in the southern outskirts of Siem Reap. It is orientated to the west.
"This sanctuary ... is a high square tower [in the style
of Angkor Wat], built in blocks of great size and an attractive grain
...This high central tower can be seen from afar amidst the rice plains
... Wat Athvea ... is a strong, very simple architecture to which they
perhaps not applied the final touches."
(Aymonier, p. 207.)
At the eastern wall of the mandapa are two fine devata on decorated pilasters in the style of Angkor Wat. At the pillars are Buddhist inscriptions of the 16th century; but the huge and well executed pedestal of a lingam in the cella mark the temple as Hindu.
"It must have been disused later ..."
(Aymonier, p. 208.)
The tower is surrounded by four fire shrines which open irregularly to the west, and is enclosed by a laterite wall of some 50 m by 42 m.
Outer gate pavilion and terrace
At the west face of the enclosure is a stately gate pavilion. Some 40 m on is the ruin of another cruciform gate pavilion.
And again some 120 m to the west, beyond what has been a large moat, are the remains of a cruciform terrace. The walls are moulded; it is the only building where the stone carvers could do their work.
- Aymonier 1999, p. 207-208.
- Glaize, p. 130-33, 189-193.
- Freeman/Jacques, p.124-129, 164-167.
- Roveda 2005, p. 255-56, 368-371, 393-96. Comprehensive decoding of the reliefs.
At the east side of its foot we stop and look for Prasat Trapeang Chambak (or: Prasat Trayoeng), just west of the road. We force our way into a thicket. A lintel is lying on the ground. Before I can take a photograph, the vegetation has to be cut off, and the relief is to be cleaned with a brush. Then we find a sandstone doorframe, properly moulded, and an octagonal colonnette at the entrance of a shallow cave. Nothing else but green is visible. Outside of the thicket I realize: the tower is still standing upright in parts. Its superstructure has collapsed, covering the interior and the outside of the walls with debris. This hill has been overgrown totally, and is now crowned by a tall tree.
A few kilometres on, at Wat Run, we see the remains of Prasat Run, just a square of some 2 m, formed by brick stones and a sandstone threshold at the east side.
The road to the East, a laterite causeway, is becoming poorer and poorer. We pass a ditch on some swaying planks. Now, in the middle of August, young rice shoots are planted into the inundated fields. Picturesque, it is really a hard job, that’s why women do it, whilst the men are looking on. We pass by Don Lang village and stop at a secluded hut, the housing of a farmer’s family. From here we have to walk, some one thousand meters only, but rough enough.We trudge across rice fields and ditches. Sometimes there is a beam under the water, and sometimes unfathomable mud. I should have my trekking sandals. Then we reach dry soil – and a rampant jungle has devoured almost all the footpath. Chamnan has a phkaek with him, a special long-handled chopper, borrowed from a farmer. In-between the green, a well preserved laterite wall, the enclosure of Prasat Trapeang Khyangg (or: Prasat Banteay Khyong).
We find a breach and climb inside: a brick tower, another one to the right. From here we cannot see tower number three, still more to the right, too many trees, shrubs and lianas are hiding it. Bit by bit we get an understanding: three brick towers, aligned north-south, orientated east. In front of the central tower: a mandapa with antarala and perhaps two fire shrines. We crawl through the gate pavilion, east gopura I. Here are traces of an inscription. Outside we find a labyrinth of strange ruins: South of the avenue a narrow long rectangular brick stone building, opening to the North or to the avenue, in the middle of its long side. On the opposite wall is a snanadroni (S), a gargoyle, irregularly running to the South. A colonnade of laterite and sandstone covers the north face. North of this building are some remains and a lot of debris, this might have been a symmetrical building. The east gopura II must have been a stately building; now it is only visible from inside as outside it is drowned in debris and totally overgrown. The brick walls support corbelled brick vaults. On both sides it is flanked by a galleries or colonnades, made of laterite and sandstone pillars, also vaulted with brick.
Trapeang Khyangg was built by the same brahmin as Banteay Srei.
On my second visit to Trapeang Khyangg there was a bridge crossing the ditch and we could go by car. We reached the temple with dry feet, but on the way back a companion fell into the water with his Nikon camera.
For more information contact Chamnan Soeun in Siem Reap, English and German speaking Angkor Tour Guide.
At the end of the world you will finde the southernmost Roluos temple, a pretty trapeang (water basin), a lot of bamboo and children and a number of sandstone door frames, drowned in rubble of brick.
Date Mid-11th century
Kings Udayadityavarman II (1050–1066)
Suryavarman II (1118–c. 1150
Cult Hindu: first Shiva, then Vishnu
Function Water sanctuary
The temple made an artificial island in the West Baray. It was built in the reign of Udayadityavarman II, and reconstructed in the reign of Suryavarman II, when the large statue of Vishnu was erected. A fragment of this statue is now in the National Museum Phnom Penh.
Maurice Glaize reports:
”Part of the facing had been detached [during restoration works], so enlarging the cavity wherein was found in 1936 - following the premonition of a local to whom the Buddha had appeared in a dream - an important fragment (the head and part of the body) of a gigantic bronze statue.” (Glaize, p. 218.)
The temple was a part of the complex hydraulic network of Angkor.
The West Mebon is under restoration and cannot be visited.