Preah Khan

Discovering Preah Khan: A Gem of Angkor

Introduction to Preah Khan

Preah Khan, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, stands as a monumental temple complex. It was built in the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. Originally, it served as a Buddhist monastery and school. Today, it is a significant part of the Angkor Archaeological Park.

Historical Significance

Preah Khan translates to “Sacred Sword,” symbolizing the military victory of King Jayavarman VII. The site commemorates his win over invading forces. It also honors his father. The temple showcases the architectural genius of the Khmer Empire.

Architectural Wonders

The complex spans over 56 hectares. It features a unique mix of Buddhist and Hindu elements. Visitors marvel at its intricate carvings, towering gateways, and serene courtyards. The central sanctuary, surrounded by four rectangular enclosures, is a highlight.

One of the most interesting features of Preah Khan is the fact that it was designed to reflect the interconnectedness of all things. The temple’s many halls, courtyards, and passages are thought to symbolize the interconnectedness of the physical and spiritual realms, and the intricate carvings and sculptures depict scenes from Buddhist mythology and daily life in ancient Cambodia.

Exploring Preah Khan

Walking through Preah Khan, visitors experience a maze of halls, chambers, and shrines. The temple’s state of ruin adds to its charm. Nature intertwines with architecture, as trees grow over and through the stones.

A long approach, lined with lantern-like lingams on both sides, leads to the west pylon, where a bridge with a statue of Churning the Sea of Milk attracts naga.

Preah Khan

When you pass through the west tower gate of Preah Khan, you will be surprised at the rather complicated structure inside. However, it is not possible to walk around all over because collapse and weathering are progressing. Basically, you will go straight on the line that connects the east and west gates to see it.

Reliefs and statues are scattered throughout the interior of Preah Khan. The picture below seems to be a battle scene in one of the gables, but what kind of scene is it?

Preah Khan

There are many small temples around the central shrine, and reliefs are embedded here and there.

Even more beautiful is the surrounding beams called Dancer’s Terrace. A group carved in the part of The picture below is one of them, said to be a dancing Apsara.

Another famous thing in Preah Khan is this two-story building. It is said that it was a library, but it seems that the purpose is not known.

Preah Khan

And when you look at the inner wall from the terrace with the Naga statue on the east side, you can see a very beautiful scenery.

Preah Khan

If you go outside from the outer wall to the east, you will find a large statue of Garuda embedded in the outer wall.


Access and Tips

Preah Khan is accessible from Siem Reap. A short drive or bike ride gets you there. Early morning visits are best. They offer cooler temperatures and fewer crowds. Respect the site’s cultural significance during your visit.


Some Angkor Wat tours also visit Preah Khan. This temple is one of grand circuit temples. So you should book a tour of the grand circuit. Half-Day Preah Khan and Neak Pean Temples from Siem Reap tour may be the most convenient tour to visit this temple. As the tour name implies, this tour also visits Neak Pean.