27 January 2007 (The Star) – Funny how the temple of Sambor Prei Kuk (Sambo Prey Kok in previous posts) keep coming up one after another. This is a travel piece from the Malaysian newspaper.
The ruins of Sambor Prei Kuk
Lest you entertain images of grand temple ruins akin to the grandeur of the awesome Angkor Wat, youâ€™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 â€œhordeâ€ 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 â€“ 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.