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Pyramid of Death (Prasat Thom)

Pyramid of Death (Prasat Thom)·         Located in Koh Ker – city at about 120 km from Siem Reap

·         Built before 921 AD

·         Was created during the reign of Jayavarman IV

·         Served as an ancient sanctuary

·         55 meterswide, 40 meters high

·         Built in the unique form of a multi-layered pyramid     


Koh Ker and the Area

Lost in the jungle there is a province of Preah Vihear located in the northern part of the country, formerly known as Chok Gargyar, which means Islandof Glory (Isle of grandeur, greatness). Moreover, this place is also unique due to the fact that in and around Koh Ker there are about 100 churches. Most of the ruins were discovered in the jungle and cleared from the mines, but, nevertheless, this area is still packed with mines, so going off the road is very dangerous!

The area of Koh Ker is much older than the famous Angkor Watt, as the Koh Ker is the first capital of the ancient Khmer state, and only later this status was moved to Angkor. Though unfortunately this areas was inaccessible to tourists until 2002, as the temples of Koh Ker still look as if they were just discovered in the jungle. On the territory of this ancient city the size of which is about 35 square km there are lots of places of worship, among which is a pyramid that is so reminiscent of Mesoamerican. This pyramid is called Prasat Thom which is translated from Khmer as "Great Temple".

Pyramid of Death (Prasat Thom)Prasat Thom – the “Great Temple”

The pyramid itself is shrouded in legends; local people prefer not to pass by this temple as for them it is a cursed place. Majorly because Khmer people still believe in a very horrifying story that dates back to the ancient times. It says that one of the kings was a fan of the cult of Mara and sacrificed human beings, dropping them into the pit of the pyramid; this pit was believed to be a portal between the worlds. In the case of the cult of Mara, the mine was the entrance to hell...

Around the pyramid you will not be able to find a single bird or a single small animal. If you ask the local people about this unusual behavior of the wild life you will get a very simple response, as they will confirm that the animals and birds do not go into this place, as they have abandoned it once they have sensed the evil spirit. Even the bugs are pretty rare here, and once you get closer the peaceful sound of cicadas will become quieter and quieter.     


The pyramid is located behind the old fence and right in the heart of the forgotten city. Its height is 35 meters and the length of the base reaches 55 m. It was built from the stone blocks closely leaning to each other. In many places the joints between the blocks are very smooth. On the outside of masonry one can trace the signs of manual work, but on the sides, in the depths of the blocks the surface is too smooth, making you wonder about the origin of the pyramid.

If you would like to get to the top of the pyramid you will have to use the old rotted wooden staircase, which was built in our times. At the very top of the pyramid there is the ancient pit, it is fenced with the flimsy wooden fence. The layers of the pyramid are overgrown with vegetation. Behind the pyramid there is a hill of similar size, covered with small trees and lianas. From the local legend it is the tomb of the white elephant, especially revered in Buddhism animal. Entrance to the hill is currently closed to outsiders, and it is guarded quite seriously, as the place is surrounded by the fence and you can see a number of signs with warning pictures.

As you see Pyramid of Death is a very mysterious and beautiful place. So, planning to visit it, don't forget to take your camera and portable photo printer: your pictures will be really fantastic.  






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