Restoration bringing ancient Cambodian temple to life
Those on an overland adventure in Cambodia may want to take the time to visit one of the country's most fascinating and mysterious historical sites - Banteay Chhmar.
Built by Jayavarman VII, regarded as the greatest king of the Angkorian Empire, the Buddhist temple is located around 105 miles from the ancient capital of Angkor.
While the vast monastic complex rivals the much more famous Angkor Wat site, it is much less well known to tourists and,due to its isolation, little has been known about Banteay Chhmar until now.
The temple was left abandoned for centuries and then cut off from the world by the Khmer Rouge and civil war, meaning it admitted visitors for the first time only in 2007.
However, the Associated Press reports that a project to restore and uncover the hidden mysteries of the temple that started in 2008 is making significant progress and bringing Banteay Chhmar to wider attention.
Financed by the Global Heritage Fund, archaeologists are painstakingly working their way through the collapsed shrines and galleries scattered within the 4.6-square-milesite and doing their best to restore them to former glories.
"It takes awhile to unfold this temple and everywhere there are enticements,"John Sanday, who leads the restoration project, told the news provider.
"My philosophy is to preserve and present the monuments as I found them for future generations without falsifying their history."
It is hoped that by attracting more visitors to the site, funds can be raised to help protect it long into the future.
However,Mr Sunday believes that is current relative obscurity is one of Banteay Chhmar's biggest charms.
"I often come here in the late afternoons, when the birds come alive and a breeze stirs. It's peaceful and quiet here, like it used to be at Angkor. This is areal site," he said.