Koh Ker (Khmer: ប្រាសាទកោះកេរ្ដិ៍) is an Angkorian site in northern Cambodia. 100 km northeast of Angkor itself, it was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire between 928 and 944 under king Jayavarman IV and his son Hasavarman II.After the Khmer empire had been established in the Angkor area (Roluos), Jayavarman IV moved the capital in 928 almost 100 km northeast to Koh Ker. Here a vast number of temples were built under his reign, until his successor returned to the Angkor area about twenty years later.
The Koh Ker site is dominated by Prasat Thom, a 30 meter tall temple mountain raising high above the plain and the surrounding forest. Great views await the visitor at the end of an adventurous climb. Garuda, carved into the stone blocks, still guard the very top, although they are partially covered now.
In late 2011, the remote location drew media attention worldwide when Sotheby's, an auction house specializing in the antiquities trade, attempted to sell a statue of a mythic Khmer Empire warrior. In March 2012, the US and Cambodian governments filed court documents to seize the statue that they purport was illegally removed from the site. A twin statue, also linked to the Koh Ker site, is on display at the Norton Simon Museum in California.
Across the site of Koh Ker, there are many prasat or tower sanctuaries. A couple still feature an enormous linga on a yoni that provides space for several people. The outlet for the water that was sanctified by running it over the linga can be seen in the outside wall of one of them. In other cases, three prasat stand next to each other, dedicated to Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu. Most of them are surrounded by libraries and enclosures, many also had moats. At that time, the roofs were still made of wood. Today, only the holes for the beams remain in the stone structures.
The site is still 3 hours away from Siem Reap, the area has been demined only recently and basic visitors' facilities are just being built. This makes Koh Ker very attractive for anyone who would like to experience lonely temples partially overgrown by the forest and inhabited only by birds, calling to each other from the trees above.