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It was originally made of wood, but now local people - with money from Khmers living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