Sambor Prei Kuk is a pre-Angko temple complex, located about 30 km to the north of Kampong Thom. It has only few dozens of visitors every week, but none of them will be disappointed. Sambor Prei Kuk’s original Sanskrit name was Isanapura.
The history of Sambor Prei Kuk goes back to the late sixth century, when Cambodia consisted of numerous small states; one of these was a kingdom on the Mekong ruled over by Mahendravarman, who extended his domain as far north as Khon Kaen in present-day Thailand. Visit Cambodia with travel Indochina
Sambor Prei Kuk became the most significant capital among the many Chenla principalities of the 7th and 8th centuries. This is why a period of plastic art in the Chenla era is called style of Sambor Prei Kuk. Earlier styles in Cambodia apply to sculptural art only. The style of Sambor Prei Kuk is an architectural style, too, in many respects being the prototype of the famous temples of Angkor.
Sambor Prei Kuk is situated mainly on the eastern bank of the Sen River, a tributary to the Tonle Sap. There were discovered remains of 150 structures in an area of 300 hectare size, 47 of them are Prasats of the 7th century.
This place divides into three main sections: the north and south groups, which date from the seventh century, and the center group, a ninth-century addition. Separated from these by the access road are the ruined sanctuary tower of Ashram Issey and the single-towered Prasat Bos Ram, which has a lion’s-head channel through which holy water flowed; it is now at ground level, but would originally have been more than a meter up the wall of the tower. The whole site is covered with the remains of towers, and carvings can be seen poking out from piles of earth or partly covered by undergrowth – exploring at random can throw up some real gems.
And if you are looking for Cambodia’s unique attraction, often celebrated poetically, namely single trees covering stone walls of monuments almost completely with their roots, you will find at least two amazing examples in Sambor Prei Kuk.