Restoration of an ancient temple near Phnom Penh to its pre-Angkorean splendor
has begun, and the government hopes it will spark similar renewal projects
across the country.
Preah Thiet, which was built in the 7th and 8th
centuries, has little more than its base left. It has over the years been
brought low by both man and time. The organizer of the rebuilding effort wants
to awake Cambodia's younger generation to the greatness of the time of
Teng Someth, initiator of the project and chairman of the Charity
Commission for the Preah Thiet Religious Building (CCPR), said reconstruction
would start next dry season and would finish in 2005, provided that sufficient
funds were made available.
"I love our culture and our temples," he said
when asked about his motivation. "My idea is to re-awaken our Khmer
The temple is 20 kilometers south-west of the capital near
National Route 2 in Kandal Stung district, Kandal province. A billboard on the
main road announces the project to passing motorists. At the site itself, a
temporary roof in pagoda style has been erected to protect the remains: the
foundation, the stupa and a statue of the Buddha.
A report drawn up by
Someth estimates the project will cost $850,000. Around 80 percent of that sum
will be used on re-building the temple itself, with the rest targeted to
developing the site and improving access. A Buddhist library is also
Someth told the Post that donations from Cambodian people had so
far amounted to $5,000, but said that donations of building materials were also
important. King Norodom Sihanouk has given $2,000 towards the
The CCPR has sent documents and the development plan to
expatriate Cambodians asking them to donate as well.
Uong Von, director
of the heritage department at the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, supports
"It is important to build new temples and re-build the old
ones," he said. "It will show Cambodian people the links to [earlier times]. If
we start by building one temple, Khmer people will start to build
Von said that the last time Cambodians had built temples for the
next generation was in the 14th century. He hoped that the actions of his
department and the ministry would encourage the building of more this
"We will support people who have ideas to rebuild temples and we
will help them with technical assistance," he said.
Preah Thiet temple
will be rebuilt to its original plan. The bricks used will be of the same size
and quality as those used in the Funan and Chenla eras and are already being
fired in Kampong Thom province.
Sandstone for the faces of Ta Prom, that
used to face out from the tower, will come from Kulen mountain. Von said that
strict adherence to the original style and materials will allow the new temple
to last thousands of years.