Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Preserving forgotten pagoda



Preserving forgotten pagoda

An exterior view of the pagoda at Kampong Preah temple in Kampong Chhnang province.
An exterior view of the pagoda at Kampong Preah temple in Kampong Chhnang province. Facebook

Preserving forgotten pagoda

To get there, it’s a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh, then a 40-kilometre journey to a remote area of Kampong Chhnang province. At the end of a largely abandoned road, you’ll find it: two archaeological treasures on a hill so remote that in the rainy months of September and October, the buildings are only accessible by boat.

For decades, the pre-Angkorian Kampong Preah temple and an early 20th-century pagoda have sat on the hill in Boribor district with few visitors. Now a group of heritage enthusiasts are hoping to raise awareness – and money – to halt its slide into disrepair.

The project is led by English teacher and Sovrin Magazine Editor Srin Sokmean, who has recruited local residents and an archaeology tour company to host a day trip to the site on August 13 to learn about its largely forgotten history.

He plans to donate the proceeds to the local pagoda committee to make repairs to the wat and eventually build fences around the temples, if given permission by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

“Today, people love modern things,” Sokmean said. “However, it doesn’t mean we need to ignore the past.”

Locals are unsure how old the pagoda is, but say it has been around for at least 100 years and that Pol Pot himself burned down the neighbouring wooden dining hall in the ’70s, according to Sokmean.

The two possibly pre-Angkorian towers, which fall under the purview of the Ministry of Culture, were restored in 2011, but have fallen victim to thieves, he said.

The pagoda, however, doesn’t fall under the ministry’s remit, and with locals too poor to maintain it, it is in rough condition.

There is also some debate over when the older temples were built. Sok Thouk, director or the provincial Department of Culture, said the structures were built between the ninth and 11th centuries.

But Chen Chanratana, an archaeology professor and founder of the Khmer Heritage Foundation, said the towers are more likely from the pre-Angkorian era, between the 7th and 8th centuries.

“Not many people know there are pre-Angkorian temples right here [near Phnom Penh],” Chanratana said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital

  • Banteay Meanchey floods kill one more as death toll reaches 15

    As floodwaters start to recede in Pursat, Battambang and Pailin provinces and Phnom Penh, Banteay Meanchey continues to bear the brunt as one more person was killed on Monday, bringing the total number of flood-related deaths to 15 in the province this month. Banteay Meanchey provincial

  • Serving coffee with a side of robots

    The eye-catching glass building surrounded by greenery at the intersection of Streets 371 and 2002 in Phnom Penh’s Sen Sok district is more than just another coffee shop where you can while away a few hours. UrHobby House cafe is filled with robots and characters from

  • Floods prompt evacuations in Kampong Speu

    Rain-induced floods and water flowing from Kampong Speu province have submerged the houses of 1,527 families living close to the Prek Thnot River in Spean Thma, Tien, Kong Noy and Roluos communes in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, according to data from local authorities. Spean Thma