World Travel GuidesUNESCO World Heritage Site Neak Pean Temple, Angkor

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Neak Pean is one of the most unique temples in Angkor with an appearance that is different from all the rest. When Neak Pean was built, it was located on an island in the middle of a great man-made reservoir, the last baray to be constructed by a Khmer king in the Angkor area. The baray is no longer around, having dried up a long time ago and is today either scrubland or paddy fields. A central temple forms an island in the centre of a cross pattern made up of eight pools, and encircled by encoiled nagas.

The name "Neak Pean" means entwining serpents. It refers to the statue of two nagas that encircle its base. Their heads entwined on the east side of the monument while their tails on the west side. I learn that they are supposed to represent the naga kings Nanda and Upananda.

Neak Pean

I photographed Neak Pean for AsiaExplorers at the end of the day, as the sun is on one direction, and provided me a background of clear blue sky. Some travel books mention that Neak Pean is best seen during the wet season when the pools are filled. However, I beg to differ. Having visited it in both wet and dry season, I prefer the dry season, when the pools are empty of water, and I can walk all the way to the steps of the ruins. As such a time, you can see the waterspouts in the form of animal and human heads at the outside centre of the pools.

Construction Details

Second half of 12th Century
by Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1220)

How to reach Neak Pean

Neak Pean is located about 2.5kmn east of Preah Khan and 2km west of Ta Som. It is also a short distance from Krol Ko, which is on the opposite side of the road.

Neak Pean is a monument of moderate importance. Depending on the number of days you are visiting Angkor, you may want to include or skip it from your itinerary. If you are travelling independently, it is best to hire a tuk tuk. Most tuk tuk will know the way to Neak Pean, and you should also visit Preah Khan and Ta Som along the route.

Now dry pond at Neak Pean.

Statue of Balaha the horse.

One of the four water sprouts.

Lokesvara statue on the south side of the Neak Pean central sanctuary.

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