The “temple in the richness of the forest” in Cambodia survives amidst a tropical rainforest that both reinforces and dismantles the structure.
Congratulations to Cambodia’s Sambor Prei Kuk, which was awarded UNESCO World Heritage status this month! The ruins dedicated to Shiva date back as far as the 6th century, originally constructed as a royal sanctuary and capital called Isanapura.
Sambor Prei Kuk, or “temple in the richness of the forest” in the Khmer language, is a modest name for a compound of over 150 Hindu sets of ruins including 10 octagonal towers, sanctuaries, prasats (castles), Shival lingams and yonis (female fertility signs), ponds and reservoirs, and lion sculptures made from brick and sandstone. The forest that nominally humbles the extraordinary grounds is a shady, sub-tropical jungle. The roots of the trees have interwoven with the architecture over time, displaying a beautiful reclamation of nature over man.
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Cambodian Culture and Fine Arts Ministry spokesman Thai Norak Satya told press that the registration as a World Heritage Site will help to fund restoration works.
“The benefit we gain from UNESCO is their financial support for repairing [the temples],” he said. “Any place that is not safe we would never let the tourists enter. The place has to be good and safe like Angkor Wat.”