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Temple where 100 virgins said to lie in need of more money

Temple where 100 virgins said to lie in need of more money

W HEN an Angkorian king built a temple on this Sambor site in 1529 in memory of his

dead daughter, legend has it that he buried a virgin girl under each one of the 100

columns.

It was originally made of wood, but now local people - with money from Khmers living

as far away as the United States - are rebuilding it in concrete (see above).

The Temple of 100 Columns, at Sampheakboreak Wat on the Sambor riverbank, is one

of the most famous and significant in the country, local people say.

According to the inscription on a nearby stupa, five Khmer kings "and some others"

had chosen this as their final resting place.

King Sihanouk made regular pilgrimages here during the late 1950s and 60s, according

to monks living at the pagoda. They said the King would not decide on many important

matters till he had prayed at Samp-heakboreak.

The King recently returned to Sambor and prayed in the pagoda again. He also gave

$1,000 toward the restoration. The monks here are proud to suggest that this is the

"King's pagoda."

The Khmer Rouge destroyed the original wooden temple in late 1976. They used the

huge columns to build bridges, monks said. All that remains of the original are two

old stones - probably dating back 400 years to its beginning - which are carved in

Pali script.

Locals say the site has never been excavated for treasures. They say they still find

ancient silver medallions with Buddhist images, and golden bracelets and fishing

hooks in the pagoda grounds.

The money has just about run out now, and the temple still has a long way to go before

it's finished. "I'd like to appeal to all the generous people to give for this

building," said chief monk Hong Boyuth. "Right now we need more money."

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