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Sambor Prei Kuk

     In the ancient time, Kompong Thom province belong to the kingdom of Chen La .it was a province which has many single temples built as group to be dedicated to Siva in Brahmanism. Most treasures in Kompong Thom province are the art of Chen La. They were the real opus of the Khmer art and highly progressed.

CHEN LA ( Means the district of bee wax )
                   Chen La was a state influenced by Kloeng like Fu Non. Chen La situated at the middle of Mekong river basin, and along the Semon river until the Basac river. She had appeared in 6th century. it was combined by two dynasties. Fu Non ( family of the moon ) and Chen La ( family of the sun ),And became the Kingdom of Khmer named Cambodia. Cambodia means the territory created by the great hermit, Kampu Svayamphuvak and nymph, Me Ra offered to be the queen by the sacred god ( inscription of Bak Sey Cham Krong temple 10th century ).

- the King who named the country “ Cambodia ” was Phavak Varaman, 6th century in the Chen La time, there are 9 kings :

1 - Great hermit, Kampu Svayamphuvak and nymph, Me Ra ( in the legend )

2 - Srot Varman

3 - Sres Varman ( there was a capital named Sres Borak in Ba Sac area in Laos at around Phu pagoda )

4 - Phavak Varman II ( 550-600 )
    Capital named Phavak Borak. Phavak Varman was a king of Chen La.His race from fu Non. He was a son of Virak Varman and a grandson of Rutr Varman. He got crowned with Kompuch Raja Laksmey, a daughter of the king of Chen La who was the neighbor of Sres Varman’s mother.By the explanation from the Chen La’s royal family said that the king Phavark Varman and his brother Chetr-Sen started invading the kingdom of Phnom in the second half of the 6th century. At that time, his grandfather died, the kingdom of Fu Non was defeated and moved the capital from Vjathak Borak( Ba Phnom ) to Navak Varak Nokor ( Angkor Borey, Ta keo ). King Pha VarkvarmanI build a capital named Pha Vak Borak ( at around Ampil Rolum ).
5 - Mohentr Varman ( 600-615 )
    King Phavak Varman I died without remaining any child. Chetr-Sen was on the throne in 600 and named Mohentr Varman. In the political activities, he made friend with the kingdom of Cambodia.
6 - Isanak Varman I ( 615-635 ) 

 He was a son of Mohentr Varman. He was on the throne in 615 and died in 635.He built a capital Isanak Borak ( Sambor Pei Kuk ). By the documents of Swi’s royal family in china showed that his capital has 20,000 houses located near Sen river. He had a glorious civilization of Khmer at that time. In view of foreign policies, He made friend with China and Chom Pa. He arranged marriage for his daughter, Sara Ni crowning on king of Cham.
7 - Phavak Varman II ( 639........... )
     Due to Isanak Varman I Did not have a child after he died, Phavak Varman II would inherit the royal wealth. it was known how is relation between PhavakVaman II and Isanak Varman I because he held the power with shot time, therefore nobody knows what happened in that period.
8 - Jaya Varman I ( 657-681 )
    He was a son of Phavak Varman II. After the father’s death he was on the throne in 657 and died in 681. He built the temple at Vjatha Borak ( Ba Phnom, Prei Veng Province ) and the Wat Phu temple( Ba Sak ).He had only daughter,Jaya Tevy ( who inherited after her father died )
9 - Queen Jaya Tevy ( 681-713 )
     She was on the throne in 681.but her power was not strongly fundamental. During the period 706-713, Chen La had been divided into two parts : Land Chen La and Water Chen La by civil war.

     The inscription showed that they usually make friends trending to the mother, in choosing their couple, the man goes to ask woman for the married acceptance. The married celebration is lasting for 8 days. In their culture, besides the Sang Scrit language, they also use the ancient Khmer language ( the inscription ). The first, oldest inscription of Khmer was angkor Borey inscription, Ta koa province in 611.Believe in religion ,the inscription showed that there were the worships for their party altogether in the 7th century. People worship Siva, then became the official and royal religion. the belief Siva and Herihara had been also worship by the people. Cambodian worships the big Vehicle of Buddhism expressed by the statue art of the Prei Khmeng style.

General aspect of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple
    The temples were mainly built by Isanak Varman to be dedicated to Siva. The temple were build as group like a single temple in a rampart. the temple has square sharp made of lime brick, lime cement and sandstone. the architecture of the temple are front and Sosar Pich ( sculpture column ) made of sandstone and there are sculpture on the lime brick. At the present, most tower are ruined because of human and natural factor.

Geographical Location of the Sambor Prei Kuk Temple
    The temple is located 28 km north of provincial town of Kompong Thom in the middle of Cambodia, 202 kms from Phnom Penh.In the past, the temples were in Kompong Svay district, now is named Prasat Sambo district.the soil around the temple is not so fertile for the crop because it is a sand soil, most people at the area are doing agriculture.

Choosing the location of the temple
     To choose the location for Khmer temple is neither by chance nor guessing. it is done by analysis and thinking clearly with the instruction of the raft of astrology, architecture teacher and assistance. To choose the name for the temple is according to the dialect of the people who has seen the specific occurred and gathering ideas to name the temple.The Sambo Prei Kuk temple were classify by the scholars of the old generation into three different groups and other is small groups as follow                                                                                                                                         

1- Northern Sambor Prei Kuk temple called Sambor temple  


Build by Isana Varman I, in early 7 century The temple called Sambor Temples surrounded by many small temples made of brick dedicated to Siva.     

2- Mid temple called Tor temple 

          a mid tower has named Tor temple. there were 8,34meters length, 5,56meters width and 18metera height. the wall has 2,50meters height and So Sar Pich ( sculpture column ) has 8 sides. Surrounding the Tor temple, there are 7 small tower made of brick and were build by Isanak Varnman I in early 7 century. There used to be pairs of stone lions guarding each side. but only two are still there today, in front of the entrance. another three of them have been taken to the provincial museum. A shot distance from Prasat Tor is the ancient “Srahsrang”, a deep square-shaped sacred pool lined with stone blocks. The Tor temple located at the mid group was build during the reign of the king Jaya Varnman II in 9 century by the Chvia’s style dedicated to Siva.   

3- Southern temple called Neak Porn or Yeay Porn temple  

         Southern Temple ( build by Isanak Varman in early 7 century ) It’s the building has a mid tower named Neak Paon Temple or Yiey Poan Temple and 7 fringe towers, and surrounded by two walls. the inside wall made of brick : 163 meters length and 162 meters width. The outside wall made of laterite stone : 260 meters length and 241 meters width.Outside the two wall there is a big pond named Neak Paon or Yiey paon pond. The temple were build to dedicated to Siva ( the art brought from India).Small temple are :

- Krol Romeas Temples

- Rosey Rolek Temples

    The small Temples are shared in two group

1/ Group of Ropang Romeas Temples Ropang Romeas made of black laterite stone. it was build by Sorya Varman I in 11th century dedicated to Siva. Group of small temples made of brick, their half bodies sank into the ground. they might were build after Sambo Prei Kuk in mid the 7th century dedicated to Sava.

2/- Group of north-western Sambor Temples By the inventory list showed that there are 293 temples in Kompong Thom province. but at the present, we found only 174 temples are :

- the temples still have good forms are 29 temples

- the temples have medium forms are 86 temples

- the temples have damaged forms and sank into the ground are 59 temples
 NOTE : the word “Kuk ” in Sanscrit language “temple” the place where God is living. the word “Kuk” is called for the small temples that are unknown, too.

Presh Theat temple