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The Ancient Capital of Chenla (Zhenla)

Every ancient kingdom has their own capital. Chenla, a kingdom which was once based in Cambodia in between 6th and 9th century, designated its capital in Sambor Prey Kuk, located in nowaday Kompong Thom province. This site is a collection of ancient temples, some are in bad conditions, which was once known as Isanapura, the capital of Isanavarman. There are 150 temples within this double-walled city, accumulate size to 1,000 acre[2]. They are divided into 3 main groups: the North, Central and South.

The North Group is called "Prasat Sambor" which is dedicated to Gambhireshvara, one of Shiva’s many incarnations (the other groups are dedicated to Shiva himself)[3].

The Central Group is called "Prasat Tor" (Lion Temple), as the name suggested, two lion stone sit at the entrance of the main door (which is actually, the only accessible door because other three are the delusive doors. You can find a B52 Bomb crater around that area (American dropped some bombs onto Cambodia during the Vietnam War and this one is bombed in the early 1970s)[4].

Prasat Tor (Lion Temple)

The South Group is called "Praset Yeuy Poun" is arguably the most atmospheric complex, as it feels lost in the forest. The eastern gateway is being both held up and torn asunder by an ancient tree, the bricks interwoven with the tree’s extensive, probing roots. A truly massive tree shades the western gate.

All of the temples are Hinduism, dedicated to Shiva. The temple is made of solid brick and late-rite stone with sculpture decorated whereas the artistic fronton and doorframe are made of sandstone[1]. In present days, these temple has become a cultural and historical tourism sites for Cambodia. The admission ticket to this serene site costs around 3$[3].

The trip to the temple can consume at least half a day. The road condition is good, if not so bad. The price of food, drink and souvenir are reasonable. The cost of bus to Kampong Thom could be around 3 to 5$. A 37-km ride from the provincial town should take you there. There are guides to be hired over there, but you can give chance to urban citizens there who can speak good English and has good knowledge about the temple.


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