Sambor Prei Kuk, also known as Isanapura, is an archaeological site located in central Cambodia, about 30 kilometers northeast of Kampong Thom city. It was the capital of the Chenla Kingdom, which thrived between the 6th and 9th centuries AD. Sambor Prei Kuk is considered one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in Cambodia.
The site was founded by King Isanavarman I in the 7th century and served as the capital of the Chenla Kingdom. The city flourished under subsequent rulers and was an important center for religious, political, and cultural activities. It was eventually abandoned and lost to the jungle until its rediscovery in the 19th century.
Sambor Prei Kuk is renowned for its well-preserved complex of brick temple structures and intricate carvings, showcasing the unique architectural style of the Chenla period. The site contains over a hundred temples spread across three main groups - North, Central, and South - each with its own distinct characteristics.
The temples at Sambor Prei Kuk are adorned with beautiful bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Hindu god Shiva and other deities. The intricate carvings and detailed sculptures showcase the artistic and cultural achievements of the Chenla Kingdom.
Tips for Visitors:
1. Getting There: Sambor Prei Kuk is easily accessible from Kampong Thom city by road. You can hire a tuk-tuk or a taxi to reach the site, which is located approximately 30 kilometers away.
2. Exploring the Site: The archaeological site is spread over a vast area, so be prepared for some walking. It is advisable to wear comfortable shoes and carry water and sunscreen, especially during the hot and humid months.
3. Hiring a Guide: To fully appreciate the historical and cultural significance of Sambor Prei Kuk, consider hiring a local guide who can provide detailed information about the site's history and its architectural features.
4. Conservation Efforts: Sambor Prei Kuk is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and efforts are being made to preserve and protect the site. Visitors are encouraged to respect the archaeological remains and avoid climbing or touching the delicate structures.
5. Nearby Attractions: While visiting Sambor Prei Kuk, you can also explore other attractions in Kampong Thom, such as the ancient temples of Prasat Sambor and Prasat Andet, or enjoy the scenic beauty of the nearby Stung Sen River.
Sambor Prei Kuk offers a unique opportunity to delve into Cambodia's rich history and witness the impressive architectural achievements of the Chenla Kingdom. It is a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and those seeking to explore the country beyond the famous Angkor temples.