Two ancient Khmer Buddhist structures at Wat Langka pagoda have been restored to their original condition as part of an effort by a group of experts who have been surveying pagoda sites and working to restore or conserve ancient structures more than 90 pagodas across Cambodia since 2017.
Venerable Hour Sarith, chief monk at Wat Langka, said that there were two monk dormitories being repaired that are 6 x 12 metres in size and 7 metres in height, with two floors. The ground floors are made from stone while the upper floors are made of wood.
Sarith detailed that these monk dorms were constructed in 1931 by Venerable Chhoem Touch, a monk and Buddhist scholar, making them 90 years old this year. He said the restoration work will maintain the building’s original decor which depicts scenes of Khmer culture and civilization worthy of preservation.
Sarith continued: “The special feature here is the sculpture in front of them. It has one symbol that is enshrined in the building called God Kal or Kirtimukha. This style is different from that of other ancient buildings.”
According to Sarith, Wat Langka is a popular destination for tourists in Phnom Penh and is very frequently visited by foreigners who show their support and appreciation.
“Most foreigners who come to Langka pagoda, in addition to looking at the style of the temple, will also visit this monk house and have their pictures taken in front of it as a souvenir.
“So now, generous people have sponsored this restoration to improve it and to make it even more beautiful. With these repairs the building should hold up for at least a few more decades,” Sarith said.
In Sovann, deputy director of the department of protection and conservation of ancient buildings within the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts, expressed support for the restoration project and his admiration for chief monk Sarith.
Sovan added that from 2017 to 2021, specialists have been surveying and demarcating the locations of 91 pagodas across Cambodia in order to conserve them. Later this year they plan to place 15 more pagodas on the list for conservation and repair of ancient structures.
Sovan explained that the repair and conservation of pagoda structures depended on a number of factors related to their architecture and the style in which they were built as well as their overall condition.
“We first check the buildings to see if they are too old or damaged to be repaired. But we always seek out funding for repairs and try to preserve any of the buildings that can be saved,” he said.