Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Ancient Khmer Rouge surviving temples to be protected by locals

Beneath the surface of a remote hill in Tuol Pongro commune, in Banteay Meanchey’s Malai district, lie two “mysterious” ancient temples that survived the Khmer Rouge years, waiting to be discovered.

The local community and authorities are playing their roles in preserving the “treasures”.

Prasat Knong and Prasat Krao temples are buried under Prey Praseth hill. Commune chief Sim Morn said the two are believed to have been excavated during the war.

Evidence of the digging can apparently be seen on the ground. He estimated that the former’s structure has been most damaged, while the latter is still in good shape.

“It is not clear when the temples had been excavated. The hill used to be a battleground. After the war ended, people came to live around this area and found proof of excavation,” he said.

Morn alleged that there was a looting attempt for treasures and ancient artefacts at the Prasat Krao temple.

Sixty-five-year-old Neang Thoeun from nearby O’Ampil village shared similar thoughts.

“That is why the villagers and authorities are jointly protecting the area to prevent others from doing the same thing,” he said.

Prey Praseth hill is considered sacred. Many people have come to the site to pray and undertake some rituals, asking for blessings and happiness, said Pech Chantha, 53, who lives in the area.

“Villagers simply call it [the hill] Tuol Prasat Krao because the shape of the temple is visible even though it is covered by soil,” he said.

Malai district police chief Ben Sam Ath said: “Experts had inspected the site, but no archaeological study or excavation has been carried out. The history and age of the temples remain a mystery,” he said.

The temple’s grounds contain iron-rich laterite stones, according to villagers.

They also believe that there used to be many ponds around the temples but they were filled up over decades, with water spinach and grass dominating the filled-up surface nowadays.

The provincial culture and fine arts department chief Yong Tang Kouy told The Post that the Tuol Prasat Krao site has been registered in the department’s “inventory book”.

A sign with a heritage logo has been planted to mark the boundary of the protected area.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen: Full country reopening to be decided in two weeks

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced that if the Covid-19 situation remains stable for 15 consecutive days from the end of the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, Cambodia will reopen fully, albeit in the context of Covid-19 whereby people have to adjust their lives to

  • Cambodia unveils new quarantine regulations

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Cambodia sets new Covid-19 quarantine rules

    The government has modified Covid-19 quarantine requirements, shortening the duration for, among others, Cambodian officials, foreign diplomats and delegations, investors and inbound travellers in general. According to an official notice signed by Minister of Health Mam Bun Heng late on October 16, quarantine length for Cambodian

  • Hun Sen: Cambodia set to fully reopen

    Prime Minister Hun Sen concludes that the October 5-7 Pchum Ben public holiday, during which many people either flocked to their hometowns for family reunion or gathered at tourist attractions across the country, has not caused an outbreak of Covid-19. In a special address to

  • Will Evergrande change the way Chinese developers do business in Cambodia?

    China’s property sector policy has exposed the grim financial condition of real estate developers including those operating in Cambodia, which raises questions over the viability of their projects and business going forward The dark blue netting draping over one of Yuetai Group Co Ltd’

  • Cambodia voted ‘world’s friendliest country’ in Rough Guides reader poll

    Cambodia ranked number one among the “World’s Friendliest Countries”, according to a reader poll conducted by London-based international website “Rough Guides”. Taking submissions through Twitter and Facebook, “Rough Guides”, a well-known travel agency and publisher of guidebooks, said the Kingdom “was by far the