Municipal officials yesterday presided over a blessing ceremony at Wat Phnom ahead of the monument’s closure for a six-month refurbishment project expected to cost more than US$180,000.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Touch Sarom and about 50 other officials from City Hall and the Ministry of Culture participated in the blessing, which included ceremonial offerings to seek happiness and banish misfortune.
Kong Bolin, director of the department of antiquities at the Ministry of Culture, said the refurbishment aimed to preserve decorations and drawings at the wat. He added that the project costs would be taken from money generated by donations from visitors to the landmark, which average between 200 and 300 people per day.
Kong Bolin said the project would take an estimated six months, beginning in February and ending in July next year, during which access to the inner temple would be prohibited, though outside areas would remain open.
“In February we will start cleaning the temple, which will be closed for safety reasons,” he said.
“Experts will preserve the inner temple drawings. Roofing tiles have become rotten and leak. We need to repair the roof first in order to preserve the drawings.”
Kong Bolin said about 30 to 50 construction workers will begin preliminary work in mid-December by strengthening the foundation of the wat, while up to 20 artists will start work on refurbishing wall drawings.