Preah Khan means ‘sacred sword’ is a temple that has been left in a largely unreconstructed state and takes some time to visit. It is not as visually impressive as Ta Prohm, but has a personality of its own and is very a explorable temple with large trees, moss, water and long impressive dark stone corridors reflecting light and creating the fantastic temple door illusions. It also has a wealth of excellent carvings with a good scale for a long walk from one end through to the other.
Like other Buddhist temples of the time many of the Buddha images were destroyed and defaced in the later resurgence of Hinduism in the empire as seen here in the next two photos showing the Buddha’s image removed, or erased by a chisel.
Originally built as a Buddhist monastery and school, it had over 1000 monks in residence. It also was the residence of King Jayavarman VII while the royal city of Angkor Thom was being built. Preah Khan is dedicated to the father of Jayavarman VII, and is architecturally similar to Ta Prohm which was dedicated to his mother.
There are networks of smaller passages, which open onto colonnades, courtyards, and rooms of all sizes. The central portion of the structure is fairly open, but exploring the outer passageways becomes increasingly difficult because of fallen stones, tree roots, and tiny openings which lead into almost completely dark interiors.
Also note the cylindrical columns on the building west of the main temple. It is one of the only examples of round columns and may be from a later period.
Walking out the west gate the insects are screeching so loud you are distracted by their noise and it almost interferes with the quiet of the temples surroundings.
Followed by the west end water pond refecting the last day’s light makes it a perfect finish to a temple visit.