Sunday, February 17, 2008

Neang Khmau continued

The two remaining towers at Prasat Neang Khmau
The two brick towers of Prasat Neang Khmau are a popular stop along Route 2, approximately 50kms south of Phnom Penh and usually incorporated into a visit to nearby Phnom Chisor. From Neang Khmau I took the back roads to Chisor through dusty villages rarely seen by travellers and recommend the route if you prefer avoiding the main highway. The only downside were the trucks shifting slate and rocks from the quarries at Chisor kicking up dust through the villages en route. Back at Neang Khmau, the north tower is less well-preserved and its lintel is in complete comparison to the one in place on the south tower. It's been completely eroded or hacked away by thieves or vandals and the altar inside is a pedestal covered in bat droppings. Wooden supports hold up the load-bearing and decorative lintels. Chea Chhang, the old man with the key to the south tower recalled that two statues found at the site were now in the museum at Phnom Penh and that if I could arrange it, could they be returned to attract more visitors to his prasat. I said I would ask! The statues in question are a headless female figure with pleated skirt and a Vajimukha, with the body of a man and the head of a horse, both from the early 10th century Bakheng style. Stop by Prasat Neang Khmau and say hello to Chea Chhang if you get the chance - tell him the museum was unwilling to release the statues!

80 year old Chea Chhang, the man with the key
The less-preserved north tower and a stupa where the 3rd tower would've stood
The lintel of the north tower has been destroyed beyond recognition The doorway to the north tower with its colonettes in reasonable condition flanked by wooden supports

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