Preah Vihear Temple Restoration Work Delayed

Restoration of the most prominent and photographed gate at Preah Vihear temple has been delayed by the need for further study by the Indian team that has signed up for the work, the head of the Cambodian body that oversees the 12th century sanctuary said on Tuesday.

In early 2015, archaeologists said the team would soon start restoring the crumbling “gopura”—the first gate most visitors to the cliff-top temple see on approach. Along with China, India co-chairs a nine-nation International Coordinating Committee (ICC) sponsored by Unesco and charged with helping Cambodia manage and develop the site.

Tourists visit Preah Vihear temple in 2013. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)
Tourists visit Preah Vihear temple in 2013. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

But at the Preah Vihear ICC’s second annual meeting in Siem Reap City on Monday, India asked for more time.

“The Indian group has not started to repair the temple yet because it needs more time to study and prepare some documents before starting their work,” Kong Puthikar, director-general of the National Authority for Preah Vihear, said on Tuesday.

“The international experts need more time to find a good way to do the renovation, so the National Authority for Preah Vihear is waiting for the recommendation.”

N. Sitlhou, first secretary at the Indian Embassy in Phnom Penh, said India remained committed to helping preserve the temple but would not discuss the delay.

“It just takes time,” he said.

Unesco’s culture specialist in Cambodia, Philippe Delanghe, said ICC co-chair China also volunteered to do restoration work on three other gates at Preah Vihear during Monday’s meeting.

“They expressed an interest,” he said. “The plan still has to be developed.”

With the ICC’s help, Cambodia hopes to turn the majestic but remote temple on the Thai border into a popular tourist attraction.

China recently paved a road to the area from Siem Reap, cutting travel time, and the area has remained peaceful since the last bout of deadly fighting between Cambodia and Thailand in 2011.

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