Temples of Cambodia: Sambir Prey Kook, the pre-Angkor capital
The enormous popularity of Angkor, which is actively advertised throughout the world by the authorities of Cambodia and the word of mouth of tourists, inevitably pushes the pre-Angkor period of development of the country into the shadows. Such a picture is drawn in the mass consciousness: in the 9th century, for no reason at all, large cities suddenly appeared in agrarian Cambodia, temples began to be built, after which everything became fragrant, and today we have Angkor, the only pearl of South-East Asia. All the rest, preceding this period, no matter how.
It is not true.
Temples of Cambodia. Sambir Prey KukSambor Prey Kuk is the very pre-Angkor city. It is located away from the busy modern highways – more than 30 kilometers from the nearest town of Kamongt – and the most enthusiastic people get to it. And their efforts are worth it. Having been to Sambir Prey Kuk, not indifferent travelers, like in a time machine, find themselves in the pre-Angkor past of the country. And, to their surprise, they learn that it was not primitive, that the temples of Angkor had predecessors, that in the country already in the 6th century there were big cities.
Sambir Prey Cook is really a big city – about a kilometer in radius, and some buildings are far beyond this perimeter. It is reliably known that the city was the center of Chenla Zemle (Chenla Voda was located south of Phnom Penh) – a quasi-state consisting of relatively independent principalities. A more or less strong king lived here surrounded by the courtyard, officials rampaged, servants fought back and forth, dancers performed concerts, Hindu priests nourished their flock and hard workers. As in all of Cambodia, no traces of their residence — remnants of residential buildings or annals — have been preserved. With the exception of stone buildings – temples dedicated to the gods of the Hindu pantheon.
Some of them are of great interest to historians of architecture. For example, the central temple of the northern section of Sambor Prey Kuk is the only one in Cambodia that has four entrances at once. Connoisseurs will be interested in temples with an uncharacteristic flat roof and octagonal buildings that are not found anywhere else. It is believed that the towers of Sambir Prey Kuk are the direct predecessors of the temples of Angkor.
Statues that once stood in the temples of the city, and now stored in the National Museum in Phnom Penh, thanks to their features gave the name to a whole style in sculpture: it is called the style of Sambor Prey Kook. He owns one of the most beautiful sculptures found in Cambodia – the figure of Devi, the wife of Shiva, full of confident restraint and mature female beauty. Today, its copy meets travelers at Siem Reap International Airport …
And about one nice feature of this place. Unlike Angkor, here you will not get tired of the thousands of Japanese photo and video equipment weighed in, noisy Chinese and prudent Anglo-Saxons. It is possible that in this tourist season you will be the first visitor to Sambir Prey Cook. Your companions are only ancient temples, trees and silence …