Travel Report: Prasat Banteay Pir Chaon Temple, Koh Ker, Cambodia.
June 2020. Even within the isolated and less visited temple complex of Koh Ker, Prasat Banteay Pir Chaon Temple stands as a particularly ignored structure. In many ways, there is little to set it apart from the more standard temple ruins we’ve seen throughout Cambodia. Nevertheless, there were a few details that persuaded me to include it in my guide to Koh Ker.
On arrival, for example, we exited the car to the sound of screeching monkeys. Their chattering was coming from deep within the forest and did a grand job of making us feel like authentic adventurers. Lost in the Cambodian jungle, so to speak. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, neither of us could spot any of the boisterous creatures.
Prasat Banteay Pir Chaon Temple, Koh Ker.
Not that much is known about the temple. Like many of Koh Ker’s rambling ruins, it dates back to around 937 and sprang up upon the order of King Jayavarman IV. Surviving inscriptions tell us that he dedicated the place to Prajapatishvara, the so-called lord of the master of creatures. A form of Lord Shiva, historians think.
Within a minute of entering the complex, we found ourselves following the most beautiful eruption of birdsong from across the trees in the outer enclosure. Possibly the most melodic chirping I’ve ever heard. These birds, quite hard to spot as they darted between the trees, utterly consumed the atmosphere.
It was so delightful I found the sound of our own crunching footsteps almost unbearable. Moreover, the snapping of twigs hampered out efforts to stay undetected as we tried to move closer to the birds for a better look. While they ultimately remained elusive, save for a few glimpses, this definitely stands among our favourite moments that day at Koh Ker.
The inner enclosure isn’t much to shout about, mostly rubble and with just one tower remaining from an original eight. For me, the highlight was this fascinating chamber with its parallel cracks running from top to bottom.
Visit Koh Ker.
On closer inspection of the inner enclosure, we did find some amazing millipedes crawling around between the slabs. Get too close and they’ll instinctively curl up into an amazing self-protective ball.
If you want to visit Koh Ker, bear in mind that you can’t gain access with The Angkor Pass. Instead, there’s a separate entry fee before you enter the forest. Tickets go for $15 per person.
Check out more of my reports from The Temples of Koh Ker.
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