Makeshift bridge for temple on lake opens for two weeks

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Srah Srang temple has reopened with a bridge for tourists for two weeks only in Siem Reap on February 22, 2021. Apsara Authority

The Apsara National Authority (ANA) is going to dismantle a makeshift bridge to an ancient temple in the middle of Srah Srang Baray – a reservoir at Angkor – now that a renovation project at the temple has been finished.

To celebrate the completion of the renovation project at Kandal Srah Srang temple, the ANA held an inaugural function on February 22, attended by Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspection Men Sam An and Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona.

ANA spokesman Long Kosal told The Post on February 25 that because the temple was surrounded by water, the ANA had built a makeshift bridge to hold the function and allow tourists to cross over – but the bridge would only be there for two weeks and then it will be dismantled because originally the temple had no bridge.

“We cannot build new things that make unnecessary alterations to the area. One of the goals of the heritage preservation team is to avoid creating anything new that could affect the historical value of the temples,” he said.

However, he said the ANA is preparing to put up informational displays about the temple so that tourists who visit the surrounding shores can learn about it from a distance.

“People who want to visit and see it can look at it from a distance and learn about Srah Srang Temple through the displays we are preparing that will tell them about its history,” he said.

He said that after the inauguration, the temple had received a lot of attention from the public.

The ANA also formally launched the operation of an old waterwheel that was a key to understanding the history of Siem Reap province.

“We know that along the Siem Reap River, in ancient times, people had always used the waterwheel – a way to collect water to be used for industry and agriculture,” he said.

Kosal said this waterwheel was built in the 1960s, and it had been in bad condition but specialists had repaired it and got it working again while retaining its original features.

The specialists from the ANA repaired the temple and the waterwheel in the same manner – without making any changes to the original constructions. They have just made them stronger and more durable in order to preserve them.

According to ancient sources, Kandal Srah Srang temple was built in the reign of Chantravarman II in the middle of the 10th century. Later, it was renovated by Jayavarman VII in the 12th century and dedicated to Buddha.

The waterwheel is 18m long, 12m high and 11.6m in diametre and it was built in the 1960s in the Sangkum Reastr Niyum era.

“While we worked to preserve Srah Srang temple – and we conducted archaeological excavations to learn about the construction style of the temple and its foundations – we were able to keep the stones around it in their original positions. So, the temple you see here has its original shape and does not differ at all from the form of the original,” Kosal said.