Not one of Cambodia’s most well-known tourist destinations but the small brick Neang Khmao Temple (or Prasart Neang Khmau) is well worth a peak if you’re passing and is conveniently located in the grounds of the modern Wat of the same name right on highway #2. (Approx 50 kilometres south of the capital and 30 kilometres from Takeo City.) That’s the main highway between Phnom Penh and Kep as it passes though Takeo Province and the track behind the temple leads directly to Phnom Chisor so it’s easily combined with that larger temple.
Prasart Neang Khmau – the ‘Temple of the Black Maiden’ – consists of 2 brick towers in relatively good condition, (there would presumably have originally been a 3rd which has since disappeared), and was constructed during the early part of the 10th-century by King Jayavarman IV. (Demonstrating that even though he broke the mould by establishing his capital at the remote site of Koh Ker, Jayavarman IV’s influence still stretched as far south as modern-day Takeo Province.)
Whilst they are fairly standard brick towers the central tower does have an astonishingly well-preserved sandstone lintel. The relief is in a classic mid-10th-century style yet the naga, demon Rahu, unidentified god, worshippers and surrounding floral and leaf motives look like they could have been carved yesterday!
The central tower also is said to contain paintings on the inside wall – a highly unusual Angkor period practice though since it’s unfortunately been locked every time we’ve visited we can’t confirm this.
We visited Prasart Neang Khmau on our ‘Beyond Angkor‘ tour en-route between Kep and Phnom Penh. Cheers!
Addenda: the temple site was being cleaned up, de-weeded and partially restored when we last visited so it’s great to see that even a little-visited like Neang Khmao Temple still gets its share of TLC.