Wat Preah Enkosei in Siem Reap : a modern wat in Angkorian ruins
posted by Fisso
Planning a Siem Reap wat tour? Wat Preah Enkosei is a great place to start. From here, you can work your way downstream and stop along the way at more pagodas. Wat Preah Enkosei is the first stop on our Siem Reap Wat tour itinerary.
Wat Preah Enkosei is tucked away in the north part of town along the Siem Reap river. It sits on East river road, opposite the Angkor Conservation.
The head monk says Wat Preah Enkosei is old… older than him! (he is a friendly and very very wrinkled man). He told us the wat was established in the mid 19th century.
However, this place seems to have been special long before Wat Preah Enkosei was built. Angkorian prasats (temples) sit just behind the old vihear (monastic hall). Yup, a slice of the temples right here in town!
The road through Wat Preah Enkosei has been renovated. It used to be a smallish dirt road, so in my eyes it is now more like a highway!
In the centre of Wat Preah Enkosei stands the old vihear (monastic hall), painted in mustard yellow. A covered corridor and terrace with balustrades run around it. Beautifully gnarled frangipani trees (Plumeria sp.) surround the terrace. As if they are there to protect the old vihear from the new road. Kids from the nearby school also enjoy climbing the low knotted branches, filling the frangipanis with laughter.
Enter the vihear from the North or South doors. Inside there is a huge seated Buddha and wall paintings. Colourful Buddhist flags are strung between the timber beams and flutter in the breeze. Woven plastic and reed mats cover the old tiles in front of the Buddha image, providing dust-free seating and kneeling.
If the doors are closed, wait a bit for the head achar (layman) or other monks to come around, or visit the Angkorian prasats at the of the wat first.
Two laterite and sandstone prasats and a gate sit to the East of the old vihear. Some of their lintels (the block that sits horizontally over a door) and carved sandstone details have been restored.
One of the prasats also houses a damaged Shiva lingam on a yoni. A few other moss covered structures can be found, as well as an altar under a tree. On our last visit, the Buddha image was wearing a funky pair of tinted glasses. Ah, the brightness and clarity of enlightenment!
Also on Wat Preah Enkosei’s premises are new buildings housing the monks’ living quarters, a school and a group of chedis (stupas).
Although cars, motos, cows and tuk-tuks pass through, the wat is still peaceful. It gets a bit livelier after school and in the evenings when kids (and adults) come enjoy the shade, climb on the trees and Angkorian ruins and play the evening badminton match.
Hope you enjoy Wat Preah Enkosei as much as us! Sok Sabay!