Cambodia to examine ‘Angkor Wat replica’ in Buri Ram

Cambodia to examine ‘Angkor Wat replica’ in Buri Ram

An aerial shot of the Sihanakhon temple complex under construction at Wat Phu Man Fah in Nang Rong district of Buri Ram, in July. (Photo: Surachai Piraksa)

The Cambodian government will send officials to view a new temple complex in Buri Ram province said to be a copy of structures at the famed Angkor Wat ruins, a Cambodian Culture Ministry official said.

Culture Technique Department director Hab Touch said archeologists and architects from the ministry will visit Wat Phu Man Fah to inspect one of the chedis in the new Sihanakhom complex, the Khmer Times reported on Wednesday.

“We are unsure of when we can go because of the Covid-19 pandemic and quarantine situation, which makes things difficult,” Touch was quoted as saying.

The official did not say what action Phnom Penh would take if the Cambodian team finds it is a copy of a structure in the sprawling tourist attraction that is ancient Angkor Wat.

The temple in Nang Rong district is building the new complex to attract worshippers and tourists.

Cambodians reacted angrily on scocial media on seeing photos of the new temple complex in July. They demanded their government take action, with the hashtags #SaveAngkorWat and #Angkorwatbelongtokhmer trending on Twitter.

However, temple abbot Somsak Sungwarajitto denied when the issue came to light that it was a replica of structures at Angkor Wat.

Buri Ram cultural office chief Khattiya Chaimanee at the time also defended the project, which he said was a combination of several famous sites.

But Cambodian History Department director Vong Sotheara was not convinced.

He told the Khmer Times he did not agree with their interpretation after checking the construction plan and layout.

“Cambodia should study more about this construction,” said the official, who is also a history professor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh.

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1992. The Hindu ruins and its vast complex are one of the most important landmarks in Cambodia and draw large numbers of visitors to the country.

Buri Ram was once part of the Khmer empire and has many small, ancient ruins from that period. Many people in the southern half of the province speak a Cambodian dialect.

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