Sambor Prei Kuk is an archaeological site in Cambodia located in Kampong Thom Province, 30 km north of Kampong Thom, the provincial capital, 176 km east of Angkor and 206 km north of Phnom ...
Situated in central Cambodia, Kampong Thom is one of five provinces located at the lower part of the Tonle Sap Lake and rich in historical sites such as temples from the pre-Angkorian era. The famous Sambor Prei Kuk, an ancient city that has about two hundred brick temples is located here in this province. The city was built during the time of King Isanavarman when he successfully united the territories of Chenla Kork and the Khmer water territory of Chenla Toek. Sambo Prei Kuk served as the capital of the Khmer Empire for many centuries.
Sambor Prei Kuk (Khmer: ប្រាសាទសំបូរព្រៃគុក, Prasat Sambor Prei Kuk) is an archaeological site in Cambodia located in Kampong Thom Province, 30 km (19 mi) north of Kampong Thom, the provincial capital, 176 km (109 mi) east of Angkor and 206 km (128 mi) north of Phnom Penh. The now ruined complex dates back to the Pre-Angkorian Chenla Kingdom (late 6th to 9th century), established by king Isanavarman I as central royal sanctuary and capital, known then as Isanapura. In 2017, Sambor Prei Kuk was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Located on the Eastern bank of the Tonle Sap lake, close to the Sen River, the central part of Sambor Prei Kuk is divided into three main groups. Each group has a square layout surrounded by a brick wall. The structures of the overall archaeological area were constructed at variable times: the southern and north groups (7th century) by Isanavarman I, who is considered a possible founder of the city and the central group (later date).
The buildings of Sambor Prei Kuk are characteristic of the Pre-Angkorean period with a simple external plan. The principal material is brick, but sandstone is also used for certain structures. Architectural features include numerous prasats, octagonal towers, shiva lingams and yonis, ponds and reservoirs, and lion sculptures. Sambor Prei Kuk is located amidst mature sub-tropical forests with limited undergrowth. The area has been mined and could still contain unexploded ordnance.
Sambo Preykuk is a cultural and historical site located in Sambo village, Sambo commune, Prasat Sambo district, about 25 kilometers northeast of Kampong Thom provincial town. The site was once an old capital named Isanapura and a religious center for the worship of Shiva Brahmanism.
Many temples were built in Sambo Preykuk during the reign of King Isanavarman I (AD 616- 635) in the 7th century. The temples of Sambo Preykuk constructed of solid brick, laterite and sandstone and decorated by bas-reliefs. The lintel, pillars and the door frames are all made of sandstone. So far, 140 temples have been discovered in the forest.
Sambor Prei Kuk, located near Kompong Thom, 150km south-east of Siem Reap, lies off the main road towards Cambodia?s capital Phnom Penh.
Kompong Thom is a sleepy little town. The only hive of activity was the market place next to the Stung Sen River where we bought some brown palm sugar and Cambodian fragrant rice. The local ?taxi? was actually an open-air wooden cart pulled by an antiquated motorbike. Its owner was an elderly man wearing spectacles with thick lenses.
The journey to Sambor Prei Kuk was interesting in itself. We saw no other vehicles other than a lone villager cycling into town, his bicycle laden with hand-made straw baskets. Our van kicked up thick red dust as we sped on the laterite road. A woman scrubbing her clothes nearby was oblivious to the dust that swept over her.
Lest you entertain images of grand temple ruins akin to the grandeur of the awesome Angkor Wat, you?d be disappointed. Sambor Prei Kuk is a group of ancient temple ruins scattered within a shady forest. Originally called Isanapura, it pre-dates Angkor Wat and was the capital city during the reign of King Isana Varman 1, the son of King Citrasena.
Few tourists know of it. The only ?horde? here was a group of Cambodian kids who rushed to our bus, hawking brightly-coloured homespun scarves at US$1(RM3.50) each. Built at the end of the 6th century, the ruins are touted to be some of the oldest structures in the country, covering an area of 5sq km.
About 100 small temples are scattered throughout the forest. Left in the open and not maintained, some of the structures are just mere remnants of their original building ? perhaps a broken wall here, a vine-choked edifice there. There are 52 temples in recognisable condition, and another 52 sites where the original structures are now buried in the ground, visible only as small hills.
All is not lost. The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts together with the Waseda University, supported by The Foundation for Cultural Heritage and the Sumitomo Fund have started the Sambor Prei Kuk Conservation Project to restore these ruins.
The main temple group known as Prasat Sambor is dedicated to Gambhireshvara, one of Shiva?s many forms. Some of the towers still retain their carvings. Many are mere ruins now covered by vegetation.
As we walked further, enjoying the cool serenity of the shady trees, the small group of child peddlers had grown to 20. The original band selling scarves had been joined by older children hawking bracelets and trinkets. They were very persistent, dropping their prices to almost a quarter of the original as we neared the end of our visit. Sambor Prei Kuk does not match the splendour of Angkor Wat. Yet its serene forests and solitude make a much welcome change from the human masses of its famous cousin.
Isanavarman I reigned over the Chenla Kingdom between 616 and 637 AD, taking Isanapura as his capital and it is argued that he built the main temple Prasat Sambor (Group N), as there is an inscription on the site attributed to his reign and dated 13 September 627 AD. The king is also known for sending his first embassy to the court of the Sui Dynasty in China (616-617). Chenla conquered different principalities in the Northwest of Cambodia after the end of the Chinese reign period yǒnghuī (永徽) (i. e. after 31 January 656), which previously (in 638/39) paid tribute to China.
The last important king in Isanapura was Jayavarman I, whose death caused turmoil to the kingdom at the start of the 8th century, breaking it in many principalities and opening the way to a new time: Angkor. This site is also claimed as an early capital of Jayavarman II (O'Reilly & Jacques, 1990).
After the Lon Nol's coup d'état to Prince Norodom Sihanouk in 1970, US President Richard Nixon ordered a secret bombing of Cambodia to fight the Khmer Rouge guerrillas and any influence of North Vietnam in the country. The US aircraft bombed positions inside the archaeological site, causing craters near the temples, while the guerrillas left several mines on the land that were cleared only in 2008.
This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on January 1, 1992 in the Cultural category.
The official religion at Sambor Prei Kuk city was Shaivism, one of the four most widely followed sects of Hinduism, which reveres the god Shiva as the Supreme Being and the Lingam (in Sanskrit लिङ्गं, liṅgaṃ, meaning "mark", "sign", or "inference") or Shiva linga representing Shiva to be worshiped in temples. In Cambodia as it is in India, the lingam is a symbol of the energy and potential of god Shiva himself and this phallic symbol is often represented with the Yoni (Sanskrit: योनि yoni, literally "vagina" or "womb"), symbol of goddess Shakti, female creative energy.
Shaivism was the religion of Chenla (ca. 550 - ca. 800 AD), including elements of Hinduism, Buddhism and indigenous ancestor cults. In the Sambor Prei Kuk temples, it is possible to contemplate stone inscriptions in both Sanskrit and Khmer, naming both Hindu and local ancestral deities with Shiva and several altars with the lingam.
Guest Name: Mr. Krzysztof Ryszkiewicz
City: Siem Reap
N.of Person: 4 + 2 years old kid pax
Booked: Angkor Stunning Hot Air Balloon
Tour Style: Tour Activities
Duration: 30 Mins