Koh Ker

Many of the large statues at the National Museum in Phnom Penh came from Koh Ker. The enormous door frames of some of the tower sanctuaries hint at the size of the sacred images once revered here. Careful observers will discover pieces of large, now broken sculptures still laying around between fragments of columns, lintels, etc.

After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 almost 100km northeast to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later.

The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter tall temple mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. Garuda, carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although they are partially covered now.

Across the site of Koh Ker there are many prasat or tower sanctuaries. A couple still feature an enormous linga on a yoni that provides space for several people. The outlet for the water that was sanctified by running it over the linga can be seen in the outside wall of one of them. In other cases, three prasat stand next to each other, dedicated to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Most of them are surrounded by libraries and enclosures, many also had moats. At that time, the roofs were still made of wood. Today, only the holes for the beams remain in the stone structures.

The site is still 3 hours away from Siemreap, the area has been demined only recently and basic visitors' facilities are just being built. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples partially overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by birds, calling to each other from the trees above.

More information on the Koh Ker style


Prasat Thom, the 30 meter high temple mountain presiding over Koh Ker


Fragment of Nandin or Sacred Bull sculpture


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