By Kent Davis
The mysterious 12th century Khmer temple of Preah Khan (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះខ័ន), once a religious city of 100,000 inhabitants, is now a peaceful destination surrounded by Cambodian jungle.
Built by King Jayavarman VII, the spiritual complex once served the Buddhist faith, Hindu gods, and perhaps was key to the king’s attempt to harmoniously blend the two faiths.
The temple features unique combinations of Garuda, the man-bird and his natural enemy, Naga, the snake god who factors as one of the progenitors of the Khmer race.
Preah Khan, located northeast of Angkor Thom, has been left largely unrestored. With numerous trees and other vegetation growing among the ruins, Preah Khan is flat in design, with a basic plan of successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary complicated by Hindu satellite temples and numerous later additions.
Once with almost 100,000 officials and servants, it was the center of a substantial culture.
Since 1991, the site has been maintained by the World Monuments Fund.
© 2008 Kent Davis – High resolution images are available to educational and non-profit organizations at no charge.
Views of Preah Khan Khmer Temple at Angkor