Cambodia's Koh Ker Temple archaeological site has been officially added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List, during the 45th session of the World Heritage Committee held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on September 17.

The ancient temple, also known as Lingapura or Chok Gargyar, is located in Srayong commune of Preah Vihear province’s Kulen district. According to UNESCO, the Koh Ker site spans 1,187ha.

Prime Minister Hun Manet, in a September 17 congratulatory letter, described the listing as a historical event, noting that the temple was built in the 10th century by Jayavarman IV.

The temple was accepted to the list by the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) as one of the world’s top architecture sites, he added.

He noted that the acceptance of the temple to the UNESCO list was the result of great joint efforts. The process is long and complicated in terms of documentation, as well as reviews by domestic and international experts, and this was compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Manet, Cambodia prepared the application for registration in 2018. Following many stages of review and evaluation, former Prime Minister Hun Sen officially requested that UNESCO register it as world heritage site in January 2021.

International experts, including from the ICOMOS, evaluated the temple in 2021 and UNESCO accepted the application in March last year.

“This achievement is another source of national pride on the international stage. It stems from the continuously heroic and steadfast efforts of the government, and was made possible thanks to [Hun Sen’s] win-win policy,” said the letter.

Manet thanked all relevant parties for their contributions to the outstanding result.

He instructed authorities at all levels to safeguard the temple and follow the guideline of the world heritage committee in terms of development in the area. All land encroachment, construction, deforestation, hunting and illegal excavations must be prevented, as they affect the value of the temple complex.

To celebrate this accomplishment, Manet instructed state institutions at all levels to beat drums or gongs and cheer on September 20 at exactly 7am in all locations, including pagodas and schools.

He also requested that the media cooperate in the celebrations.