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Temple Watch : Hard road to Preah Khan

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SR-photo-byline-.jpg

Continuing our journey from Sambor Prei Kuk to the temple of Preah Khan involves a route into a difficult area where relatively few tourists venture. The trip north passes through an area of cleared forests and new settlements. The road eventually deteriorates into rutted tracks and deep sandy trails, with fallen trees blocking the main route. With few villages, and trails going off in all directions, it is no place for the inexperienced driver or rider. There are several dry rivers to cross before arriving at Ta Seng village, three kilometres from Preah Khan temple. The temple area of Preah Khan covers over 25 square kilometres and is more than four times the ground area of Angkor Wat. To the east, the multi-faced temple of Prasat Preah Stung can be seen along the road from Ta Seng. The three-kilometre reservoir has a small temple, the Mebon, which has some fine Garuda figures high up on the wall. The main temple, known locally as Prasat Bakan, is enclosed by a moat with a highly decorated causeway and triple arched entrances. The central sanctuary is a ruin. Sadly, Preah Khan was seriously damaged during the civil war, but there is still a lot remaining to see, with Bayon-style towers and some fine carvings. The triple gateway partially covered in vegetation gives the lost temple atmosphere that is becoming hard to find nowadays.

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