Koh Ker Pyramid of Death: How a “Mexican Pyramid” appeared in Cambodia
This stepped pyramid is not in Mexico, as one might think at first glance, or even in the jungles of Guatemala. It is the temple complex of Koh Ker in the north of the Kingdom of Cambodia, which was the center of the northern capital of the Khmer Empire. At the top of the pyramid is an unusual well that goes deep into the structure, and locals avoid going near it, believing that it is associated with dark forces.
The ruins of the ancient city of Koh Ker are located in the province Preah Vihear, 90 kilometers northeast of Angkor – the ancient capital of the Khmer. And the history of this city, lost in the jungles of Hindustan, begins with a rivalry for power. Yes, dynastic strife flourished in the Khmer empire as well, and many relatives of the ruler did not want to put up with the role of relatives, they wanted sole power.
The heyday of Koh Kher was in the 10th century when it briefly became the northern capital of the empire. Jayavarman IV was a relative of the reigning head of state Harshavarman I and claimed the throne. In the north of the country, he founded a new capital, which he called Koh Ker or Chok Gargiar.
A city with many palaces and temples, with a grandiose water reservoir and the necessary infrastructure, was built in two decades. The dual government lasted a little over 20 years and ended with Jayavarman IV and his heir succeeding to the throne. However, it did not last long: after a while, the capital moved back to Angkor, and Koh Ker lost its status as the capital.
The pyramid in Koh Ker is called Prasat Thom, and it is one of the few structures that have survived to this day in the northern capital. Prasat Thom has 7 steps and is 32 meters high with a base length of 55 meters. The shape of the pyramid is very reminiscent of similar structures of the American Indians.
At the top of the construction is a mine, which leads deep into the structure. Its purpose is not completely clear. The pyramid, apparently, should become the tomb of Jayavarman IV, therefore it has received the name “pyramid of death”. But no burial inside was found. Of the other noteworthy objects, we can mention is the garuda, the mythical bird of the god Vishnu, which is carved on the top of the pyramid.
According to another popular version, one of the local rulers worshipped dark forces and sacrificed people to the god Mara. The mysterious well at the top of the pyramid was used for this purpose, and it is for this reason that the local population is wary of approaching Prasat Thom. But this does not seem to frighten the tourists, who are in abundance here.
This pyramid is especially attractive for lovers of mysticism and all kinds of extreme adventures. Guards on the territory of the complex, of course, are present, but the curious tourists periodically try to penetrate into the closed well, located at the top. It is assumed that this is the entrance to some room hidden inside the pyramid, but there is no more detailed information about the contents of Prasat Thom.