The Shiva-temple Preah Ko ("Sacred Bull") in Angkor's predecessor capital Hariharalaya - nowadays called Roluos - is located halfway between the similar Lolei temple and the pyramidal structure Bakong. It is the first ancestor temple of the Khmer empire. 

Preah Ko was consecrated in 879, supposedly as a kind of royal chapel adjoined to the king's palace. 

The residential area was surrounded by a moat of 500 m length and 400 m width. 

The palace buildings were wooden and vanished in the course of time, thus only the stone buildings of the temple area are left over. 

Preah Ko is famous for its exquisite decoration, inspiring the later Angkor styles of stone carving. Particularly, its carved colonettes remained to be of unsurpassed quality.

History of Preah Ko Temple

Preah Ko was built by King Indravarman I in 879. Indravarman was the nephew of Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer empire. The temple was dedicated to Shiva and the name “Sacred Bull” represents Nandi, Shiva’s mount. Preah Ko was the oldest of all the temples in Roluos.

At the time, Preah Ko would have been part of the ancient capital city of Hariharalaya before it was moved to Angkor Thom in the late 12th century.

The temples would have declined in importance at this time but would have continued to have been used.

It is believed that the temples were deserted with the other temples at Angkor at some point in the 16th century.

Rediscovery and Restoration

The site was rediscovered by French explorers in the late 19th century. It wasn’t until the 1930s that the site was cleared. In the 1990s, the German government funded a restoration project of the towers.

Layout & Design

Preah Ko consists of six brick towers arranged in two rows of three towers each perched on a sandstone platform. The towers face east, and the front central tower is the tallest. The sanctuaries are dedicated to three divinized forefathers of Indravarman and their respective wives. 

The front central tower is dedicated to Jayavarman II, the founder of the Khmer empire. The tower to the left is dedicated to Prithivindreshvara, King Indravarman's father; the tower to the right to Rudreshvara, his grandfather. The three rear towers are dedicated to the wives of these three men. The central towers all bear images of the Hindu god Shiva.

What to see at Preah Ko Temple?

The moat and outer enclosures

The Preah Ko is surrounded by a moat measuring over 500 meters on each side and three enclosures. Nothing remains of the third enclosure except for the East cruciform gopura, in which was the main entrance to the temple.

The laterite wall of the second enclosure is intersected by gopuras at the East and West side. In the South East corner of the 2nd enclosure stands a large, well preserved library building with perforated stone windows. Ascetics are sculpted into the bricks of the square structure. Virtually nothing remains of several gallery buildings and long rooms near the second enclosure wall.

First enclosure

The first enclosure is surrounded by a brick wall. At the center of the East and West wall is a gopura entrance building with colonettes in the windows. Lintels over the entrance gate are adorned with sculptings of Hindu Gods like Vishnu. The Preah Ko’s foundation stele was discovered in the East gopura building. The stele pays homage to Shiva, names the ancestors of King Indravarman I and mentions the date on which the statues of the main idols were installed in the sanctuaries.

Six sanctuary towers

Six sanctuary towers in two rows of three stand on a square platform. In front of the platform facing the towers are three statues of the bull Nandi, the mount of Shiva. Three stairways, each guarded by a pair of lions give access to the platform and the sanctuaries. The towers were covered in stucco in which very detailed sculpting were made, some of which are still intact today. The sanctuaries open to the East, while there are false doors on the other cardinal directions.

The front row sanctuaries (the East towers) are larger than those of the the second row. Indravarman I dedicated them to three of his ancestors, Kings who ruled Angkor before him. Flanking the doors are armed dvarapala guardians in niches. Enshrined on pedestals in the sanctuary rooms were images of the Hindu God Shiva. The lintels over the East entrance contain carved depictions of a Kala (a monster depicted with large teeth and only an upper jaw) with a deity sitting on top of its head, as well as Naga snakes and small warrior figures. The lintels over the false doors contain depictions of Garuda, Nagas and warriors.

The second row of sanctuary towers which are smaller than the front row was dedicated to Indravarman’s female ancestors. Instead of dvarapalas, the sanctuaries are guarded by sculptings of female devatas standing in niches. Lintels and pediments are adorned with sculptings of Nagas and Garudas.

Practical Information

Temple Facts

  • Date: 879 A.D (late 9th century AD)
  • Religion: Hinduism
  • Built By: Indravarman I
  • Dedicated To: Shiva
  • Style: Preah Ko
  • Best Time to Visit: Anytime, best in the morning
  • Length of Visit: 30 - 60 minutes
  • Temple Pass: Required


Preah Ko is located in Roluos which is around 15km from Siem Reap. It’s located next to Bakong temple and south of Lolei temple. Check the location of Preah Ko on Google Maps for your reference.

Getting There

Getting to Preah Ko is easy. The National Road 6 is a good road and it’s easy to take a tuk tuk or a taxi to get there. However, National Road 6 is the main road to Phnom Penh and it’s busy, so if you’re cycling, you may want to opt for a more scenic route through the countryside.

If you’re taking the National Road 6 option, you can head out of Siem Reap for around 15km. Then turn right before you get to the Bakong High School. Continue along the road for around 400 or 500m and you’ll see Preah Ko on the right side.

If you decide to take the back way, you’ll want to leave Siem Reap via the Sala Kamreuk road towards Chhreav Village. Keep following the road to the east and eventually, you’ll find the group of temples which make up the Roluos group.

Preah Ko Tours

Preah Ko and the Roluos Group are popular temples to visit. They aren’t as visited as the main temples near Angkor Wat, but they still attract hundreds of visitors each day. Cycling Tours are a popular option for these temples as you can take the back way through the countryside.

If you’re travelling by tuk tuk or taxi, then you’ll probably have finished exploring the temples in half a day or less. Many tourists opt to include a floating village tour of nearby Kampong Phluk when visiting the Roluos Group.

It’s also possible to stop and see Preah Ko on the way back when taking a Beng Mealea temple tour.


Although there are some small guest houses and homestays in the area, most guests prefer to stay in Siem Reap town. The Roluos Group of temples is only a short distance from town, so most guests prefer to make the short journey to see the temples.

There’s more to offer visitors in Siem Reap than there is in Bakong. But if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Siem Reap, you might want to opt to stay in a home stay or small local guest house in the area.

Why Visit Preah Ko?

All the temples in this area are historically significant and well preserved. As such, they do attract quite a lot of visitors. However, they aren’t as busy as the main temples in the park and it will feel a lot less crowded here.
If you’re into cycling, the temples in the Roluos Group can be a great destination to get out of the town, explore the countryside and see a few temples.

Preah Ko Photos

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My name is Jolie, I am a Vietnamese girl growing up in the countryside of Hai Duong, northern Vietnam. Since a little girl, I was always dreaming of exploring the far-away lands, the unseen beauty spots of the world. My dream has been growing bigger and bigger day after day, and I do not miss a chance to make it real. After graduating from the univesity of language in Hanoi, I started the exploration with a travel agency and learning more about travel, especially responsible travel. I love experiencing the different cultures of the different lands and sharing my dream with the whole world. Hope that you love it too!


Taking a cruise on the fascinating Mekong River offers a unique and memorable travel experience. The Mekong River, one of the longest rivers in Asia, flows through several countries, including China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam. Each destination along the river offers its own distinct cultural, historical, and natural attractions. In this article, we will go over what you can expect when cruising the Mekong River. 


Preah Vihear Temple (Prasat Preah Vihear) is an ancient Hindu temple built during the period of the Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia. In 1962, following a lengthy dispute between Cambodia and Thailand over ownership, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled that the temple is in Cambodia.

Affording a view for many kilometers across a plain, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most spectacular setting of all the temples built during the six-century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the empire's spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles.

Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north–south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the east. The temple gives its name to Cambodia's Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located, as well as the Khao Phra Wihan National Park which borders it in Thailand's Sisaket province, though it is no longer accessible from Thailand.

On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Deep in the forests of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, the elegant spires of an ancient stone city soar skyward above the sprawling complex of Angkor Archaeological Park.

The Khmer Empire’s various capitals thrived here from the 9th to 15th centuries, while their rulers presided over an empire that stretched from Myanmar (Burma) to Vietnam. Including forested areas and newly discovered “suburbs” Angkor covers more than 400 square kilometers.

Though just one of hundreds of surviving temples and structures, the massive Angkor Wat is the most famed of all Cambodia’s temples - it appears on the nation’s flag - and it is revered for good reason. The 12th century “temple-mountain” was built as a spiritual home for the Hindu god Vishnu. The temple is an architectural triumph laden with artistic treasures like the bas-relief galleries that line many walls and tell enduring tales of Cambodian history and legend.

In other parts of Angkor such art depicts scenes of daily life - offering scholars a precious window into the past.

Reading the below epic guide for Angkor Archaeological Park, you will have all the information you need from its history, maps, best time to visit and so on to have the best out of your Angkor tours


Banteay Kdei Temple (Prasat Banteay Kdei), meaning "A Citadel of Chambers", also known as "Citadel of Monks' cells", is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. 

Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII (who was posthumously given the title "Maha paramasangata pada"), it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister.

This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings and is now undergoing renovation. Banteay Kdei had been occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries till 1960s.


Just east of Angkor Thom’s Victory Gate is Chau Say Tevoda. It was probably built during the second quarter of the 12th century, under the reign of Suryavarman II, and dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. It has been renovated by the Chinese to bring it up to the condition of its twin temple, Thommanon.


Thommanon Temple is a Hindu temple site that's covered in intricate carvings and surrounded by forests in Angkor. The temple is in relatively excellent condition, thanks to extensive restoration work in the 1960s.

It was constructed about the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of architecture is quite evident in the towers and carvings, which are in very good condition. During the rainy season, the dampened sandstone offers great photo opportunities.

Part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the complex dates back between the 11th and 12th centuries. It is about 600 metres east of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom, just opposite Chau Say Tevoda. Even before restoration, Thommanon was in much a better condition than Chau Say Tevoda. Unlike the latter, which was built using wooden beams enclosed in stone, Thommanon Temple's entire structure was made out of stone. 


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