Koh Ker Temple - The Forgotten Capital of the Khmer EmpireIf you have a knack for archaeology, then you will definitely love exploring the various temples and monuments in Cambodia. One such ancient temple is Koh Ker temple. Koh Ker was earlier the capital city of the ancient Khmer Empire. At that time, King Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II were the rulers. The dilapidated situation of the temple now does not give the slightest idea that once this place had been a thriving hub.
About Koh Ker TempleKing Jayavarman IV built this majestic temple in AD 928 to AD 942. It is a 35 meter (115 ft.) high structure. You will be stunned as it resembles the structure of a seven stepped stupa. The temple is facing the Angkor city. People used to worship the God of Happiness – Treypuvaneswara. This temple complex lies 120 km (75 mi) northeast of the Siem Reap region. It appears as if the lush green forests have engulfed the temples in their arms.
• Travelers prefer to visit the Prasat Krahom first. The architecture of this temple is magnificent. The stone carvings, slender window columns, and doorposts are extraordinarily beautiful. The King used sandstone to build the entrance pavilion. Moss has engulfed the huge laterite towers. This was earlier a meditation palace. Visitors can climb up the structure by using the wooden staircase. But there is no way to reach the seventh or the top tier. Earlier, a Siva linga used to be there. The view from the top is extremely spectacular.
• Prasat Thom is the most significant monument in the Koh Ker Temple Complex. Travelers can go to the top to enjoy the stunningly beautiful view. But it is too high, and not everyone can digest so much height. You can witness around 40 inscriptions that date back to 932 - 1010. King Jayavarman IV expanded the structure under his leadership.
• Prasat Prang or the seven tired temples was perhaps the state temple during the rule of King Jayavarman IV. The top platform used to hold a four-meter high lingam. It was extremely heavy too. According to the inscriptions, this lingam was the most beautiful and tallest. A steep staircase towards the north leads the travelers right at the top. The travelers should keep in mind that the original staircase has almost turned into ruins. The same is the condition of the bamboo staircase, which people built in the 20th century. You can witness some exquisite relief works of Garudas on the sides of the topmost platform.
How to Reach the Koh Ker Temple Complex?The best thing to do would be hiring a private taxi from Siem Reap airport to reach the Koh Ker temple complex. It will take around 2.5 hours (117.5 km) to reach the Koh Ker temple complex from Siem Reap, costing around $75-$95. While in the car, you can enjoy the view of banana and cashew plantations as well as rice fields on both sides.
Another way to get to Koh Ker is via self-drive. It takes 2 hours 11 minutes (117.5 km) to get there, and the fuel costs is around $9-$11. There is a proper parking area where you can park your car. You will also get some sumptuous food to eat right at the side of the parking. You can even gulp in some fresh coconut water and buy some souvenir for a cherished memory. But please keep in mind that in this place you will find no restrooms.
You can likewise come from Siem Reap city to Koh Ker via Tuk-Tuk; i.e. 120 km (3-4 hours), costing you around $145.
When is the Best Time to Visit the Koh Ker Temple Complex?The best time to visit the Koh Ker temple complex is during the morning. You can plan a trip to this part of Cambodia between November and May. You will be able to avoid the scorching heat. The pyramid-like structure, as well as the staircase area, does not have too many trees and shades. Also, you can enjoy a leisurely stroll all around the Koh Ker temple complex as the place remains less-crowded throughout the year.
Key Details That Will Help You Out During Your Visit to the Koh Ker Temple Complex
• Entrance fee: $ 12 for adults. Children who are under the age of twelve years can enter the Koh Ker temple complex for free.
• Bathrooms are available in the tickets kiosk itself. So if you need to use bathrooms and freshen up, do that prior to entering the temple complex.
• There are some covered picnic benches near the ticket check-point where you can sit and take rest.
• Visiting hours: 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
• Remember to wear clothing that covers your shoulder and knees decently since it is a place of worship. You need to respect the tradition and culture of the place.
If you have a keen interest in religious values and ancient temples, then you cannot miss this amazing complex of Koh Ker temple. The exquisite archaeological work is one of its kind in entire Cambodia. The serenity of the lush green vegetation that now has engulfed this huge seven tire structure will not make you realize that once this space had experienced the chaos and hustle-bustle of city life. If you want to experience the sharp contrast between the past and the present, then do pay a visit to this amazing archaeological site. You will regret later if you do not include Koh Ker temple in your itinerary.