Monday, June 8, 2009

Spean Dach

The half naga at the eastern end of Spean Dach
Just a hop, skip and a jump from the bird reserve of Ang Trapeang Thmor, lies the remains of an Angkorean bridge called Spean Dach, located along the ancient laterite highway that used to link Angkor to the Khmer temple sites in Thailand, as it passed through the Phnom Srok district. Nowadays, you have to keep your eyes peeled as you travel along the bumpy dirt road, which passes directly over the bridge. The laterite blocks protruding from the undergrowth give the game away, as does the small Neak Ta shrine to the side of the road. Spean Dach is one of a handful of ancient bridges built along this highway in Banteay Meanchey province. It measures 89 metres long, is nine metres wide and must've had more than 20 arches in its heyday. Only a couple are visible today as the road and earthen embankment has hidden much of the bridge from view. A quick restoration project would return to bridge to its former glories, though the sandstone naga balustrade that usually sits on top of the laterite blocks is missing from this example, and is replaced by laterite. It may've been that sandstone was in short supply in the area. Indeed the eastern end of the bridge has its naga rearing up and in the undergrowth lies the top half with naga heads. A nice find and the CISARK map shows a few other bridges and temples in the vicinity, though we were pressed for time and were unable to go searching.
The half naga looks like the body of a giant, minus the head
This is the top half of the naga with small heads carved into the laterite stone
The eastern end of Spean Dach and the roadside Neak TaOne of the few arches visible amidst the undergrowth
Laterite blocks form the bridge and the balustrade at Spean Dach
The roadside Neak Ta at Spean Dach

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