The name Preak Khan means “Sacred Sword”
Strolling down the tree lined walkway towards Preah Khan as the gentle chimes of a Khmer band playing…this only adds to the mystical atmosphere of this ancient temple.
The area is thought to be the second city in the Khmer kingdom, the first being around The Roulos Group – which is classed as some of the oldest temples in Siem Reap.
It is believed that the workers lived outside the boundaries of the royal precinct and as the number of citizens swelled to an estimated 1 million, the capital was relocated to Angkor Thom Archaeology Park.
It is entirely possible that Preah Khan was the local people’s temple of worship, where citizens could pay their respects and give offerings.
The entire area was once surrounded by a moat, while this temple has a mixture of Buddhist and Hindu influences that can be seen within its architecture.
Preah Khan temple is believed to have been built in the 12th century. The entrance is flanked with two large statues of lion, which represents courage and strength that stands as guardians.
However there has been damaged due to the spoils of war. Even so – there is a serene splendor about this place with an atmosphere that only comes with visiting these mystical temples.
Still, with original engravings on the wall, Preah Khan covers a large area that has loads of corridors to explore, which contains monuments and shrines around every corner.
Because of war throughout the centuries, many of the original statues have been stolen and only now bare plinths mark the floor….leaving pictures to the imagination of what this temple must have looked like.
Like the chamber at Angkor Wat, there is an unusual feature of this temple which reflects and amplifies sound. If you stand against the wall and beat your chest or sing a note – the tone will magnify back to you in a most unusual way. No one knows what these “sound chambers” were used for – however it seems that producing a specific tone must have been of great importance – which also has been discovered in other ancient monuments around the world.
Preah Khan Temple was found in the 1920’s by French archaeologist Henri Marchal and clearing works began on the overgrown temple. It is said that in 1939, Maurice Glaize (Conservator of Angkor) found something under a pile of rubble during later excavations upon the site.
It was an engraving on large stone that measured 2 meters by 60 cm (6 ½ feet x 2 feet) and inscribed on all four sides in ancient Sanskrit. The stone contained a wealth of information for archaeologists and about the goings on in this thriving city.
Even though Preah Khan Temple has been plundered through the centuries – it still has a special air about it and you can somehow feel how scared this temple once was, which seems to ooze from the walls all around you.