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Wat Somrong Knong

Wat Somrong Knong

  • Travel Location Battambang
  • About 4km north of Battambang, Wat Somrong Knong was built in the 19th century on the site of a pre-Angkorian temple complex. The Khmer Rouge used the temple grounds as a prison and it's believed that around 10,000 people were executed ...

OVERVIEW

About 4km north of Battambang, Wat Somrong Knong was built in the 19th century on the site of a pre-Angkorian temple complex. The Khmer Rouge used the temple grounds as a prison and it's believed that around 10,000 people were executed here. The complex today houses the gorgeous main pagoda and a mish-mash of ancient ruins, glittery modern structures and memorials to those who perished here.

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Just outside the complex's southwest wall is a memorial shrine festooned with grisly bas-reliefs of Khmer Rouge atrocities. A glass case contains victims' skulls.

To get here, cross the bridge over the Sangker River 1.7km north of the ferry pier, then continue north on the other side for another 1.7km and take a right on a small dirt road. Continue 500m down this road to the site. If coming from the north, it's about 2.5km south of the bridge near the prahoc factory.

The temple of Somrong Knong is just six kilometers north of Battambang. The temple was seized by the Khmer Rouge in 1976 and turned into a prison. At least 10,000 people were put to death in all manner of grisly fashion here, and it's reported that the warden even introduced cannibalism, putting prisoners to death and then eating parts of their body. A memorial near the temple follows the usual lined for these things in Cambodia, with stacks of skulls displayed in the windows of a large reliquary. The one unusual aspect is the two-tier base with reliefs in concrete depicting the various crimes of the Khmer Rouge, especially the various forms of torture and execution.

Of the temple itself, the old building that was used as a prison is more or less abandoned, although the exterior is still in good enough shape to see that it once was quite exquisite. Of special note is the elaborate eastern gateway. There are several funerary monuments in the grounds, including one large Khmer style tower whose base has crumbled away, leaving the top balanced somewhat precariously.

A new chapel is being built in the grounds, as the old chapel cannot be re-consecrated.

There is no admission to the temple or the killing fields memorial at Wat Somrong Knong.

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