Kampong Speu provincial authorities are developing an ancient Khmer temple as a new tourist site after researchers realised the seventh century temple on K’aek Pong Mountain resembles the recently heritage listed Sambor Prei Kuk temple.
Provincial governor Vei Samnang said yesterday the recently found temple was named by archaeology experts as K’aek Pong Mountain.
Studies showed it was built during the early 7th century in the style of the Sambor Prei Kuk temple in Kampong Thom province, which was recently listed as a World Heritage site.
He said cultural experts inspected it on Tuesday. They told him it was a place of worship which once had valuables and gold, but these had been stolen.
Mr Samnang said local people in the past had not been interested in the temple because it was on a hillside, in a forested area with difficult access by road.
However, he said provincial authorities would ask for temple stone from Sambor Prei Kuk and Preah Vihear temples to repair the damaged area, while commune chiefs would be advised to prepare road construction plans for the area.
Provincial authorities would also develop the attractiveness of the area to draw tourists as well as citizens to visit the ancient Khmer temple, he said.
Deputy director of cultural heritage at the Ministry of Culture Heng Sophady said the ministry had listed the K’aek Pong temple and made a map of the area since 2007.
But the ministry had not developed it because the temple had a single tower, was in the middle of the forest, and near a military garrison that could pose security issues.
However, he lauded the provincial authorities for planning to develop a road and preparing to beautify the temple location as a tourist site.
“The ministry supports it if there is development to attract tourists because we do not want to leave the temple in the middle of the forest,” he said.
“We know that these days, we have a lot of temples, so we give priority to the big temples that have a lot of visitors, so it’s a good thing if the province develops this temple.”
He said the ministry would check and cooperate with the provincial authorities to ensure that development of the area would not affect temple conservation.
“Development and conservation have to go together to maintain the temple beauty and the cultural heritage value,” he said.
“For the temple to be recognised, there must be development of access roads and suitable tourist services.”