Preah Khan secret sword Temple is one of the 12th century temples and the temple was by king Jayaman VII, to dedicate to his father
The Preah Khan temple complex situated at the northern edge of the Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most significant buildings erected during the ancient Khmer empire. Dedicated by the great king Jayavarman VII to his father in 1191, Preah Khan serves today as an outstanding example of a large linear temple complex in a dense jungle setting. Rectangular in shape and occupying 138 acres, Preah Khan’s boundaries are defined by a protective moat and fortified walls adorned by monumental carved stone Garudas—eagle-like divine beings. The temple complex includes entryways, towers, ceremonial spaces, courtyards, shrines, and a variety of connecting corridors. Additional special features of Preah Khan include its two-story pavilion, the once-bronze-plated sanctum sanctorum, and its Hall of Dancers.
Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most culturally significant sites in Cambodia. It represents a fascinating period in early Khmer culture and it is a powerful symbol of the country’s heritage. Abandoned hundreds of years ago, the temple complexes were swallowed by the jungle. At the end of the nineteenth century, French archaeologists, art historians, and architects thoroughly documented the fascinating buildings they found hidden mysteriously in the overgrown vegetation. Since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, Angkor has been a great focal point of the rebuilding efforts in Cambodia. WMF and many international teams have worked closely with Cambodian professionals and the APSARA Authority to document, conserve, and protect these astonishingly beautiful buildings. Long-term stewardship continues to be the greatest concern, and WMF’s work at Preah Khan assures that attention is being paid to develop the skills and local workforce needed to care for these structures long into the future. The Preah Khan temple complex situated at the northern edge of the Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most significant buildings erected during the ancient Khmer empire. Dedicated by the great king Jayavarman VII to his father in 1191, Preah Khan serves today as an outstanding example of a large linear temple complex in a dense jungle setting. Rectangular in shape and occupying 138 acres, Preah Khan’s boundaries are defined by a protective moat and fortified walls adorned by monumental carved stone garudas—eagle-like divine beings. The temple complex includes entryways, towers, ceremonial spaces, courtyards, shrines, and a variety of connecting corridors. Additional special features of Preah Khan include its two-story pavilion, the once-bronze-plated sanctum sanctorum, and its Hall of Dancers.
Conservation following a time of war
World Monuments Fund’s goal in Cambodia from the time of its first mission to Angkor in 1989 has been to devise appropriate techniques for conserving and presenting its monumental remains while simultaneously helping train a new generation of professionals and skilled workers. Detailed planning and conservation began at Preah Khan in 1991, marking the first activity of its type since the country’s devastating civil war. WMF’s work has encouraged the training of young Khmer architects, engineers, and archaeologists, and employment of a local work force has been a hallmark of WMF’s efforts.
Large temple city
The Preah Khan was a temple city occupying a large area surrounded by a moat.
The outermost enclosure was built up with wooden houses and huts where common people lived. The wooden structures have long gone.
A hospital and a “house with fire”
On the grounds were also a hospital and a “house with fire”. The small inner sanctuaries are cramped with a great number of temple structures, including a well preserved Hall of Dancers.
Built as a Buddhist temple
As King Jayavarman VII was a devout Buddhist, the Preah Khan was built as a Buddhist temple. Most depictions of the Buddha have been destroyed or changed into praying Rishi figures during the Hindu reaction of King Jayavarman VIII in the 13th century.
Clearing works on the overgrown temple started in the late 1920’s. The temple has been partially restored using the anastylosis method, reconstructing the temple with the original architectural concepts in mind.
A sculpting of a Devata on the walls of the Preah Khan
A sculpting of a Devata
The Preah Khan stele
In 1939 Maurice Glaize, the French conservator of Angkor, discovered the Preah Khan stele under a pile of rubble. The stele measuring 2 meters by 0.60 meters is inscribed on all four sides.
Texts on the stele
It contains a wealth of information about the history of the temple. The stele contains an invocation to Lokeshvara and Prajnaparamita as well as to the three jewels of Buddhism, namely the Buddha, the Dhamma or Buddhist teachings and the Sangha, the Buddhist community.
The text praises Jayavarman VII, the King who built the temple and mentions that the King founded a city named Nagara Jayasri, which translates to “the City of the Sacred Sword”.
From the texts it is known that close to 100,000 people were dedicated to serve the temple, including rice farmers, monks and dancers. It also lists the wealth of the temple, including silver, gold and gems.
The stele mentions that in 1191 a statue of Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion was consecrated, carved to resemble the father of Jayavarman VII.
Eastern approach to the temple
In front of the temple’s Eastern entrance are the ruins of a small landing area for boats with a couple of lions standing guard. The pier is situated on the Western bank of the Jayatataka baray, a huge water reservoir (now dry) immediately East of the temple. From this pier, the King could embark a boat to the Neak Pean temple, which is located in the center of the baray.
From the landing area a 100 meters long walkway with boundary stones leads to the causeway crossing the moat. The Buddha images carved into the boundary stones have been destroyed. The moat is crossed by a bridge lined with giants holding the body of the mythological Naga snake. — at Preah Khan Temple.