Prasat Sralao, situated 3 km south-east of the village Svay Chek, is a very remote small temple, dating from second half of the 10th century. The temple was dedicated to a god called Tribhuvanamaheshvara, which is a name of Shiva as "Lord of the Three Worlds". Tribhuvanamaheshvara was venerated in Koh Ker and Banteay Srei, too.
The modern Khmer name Sralao denotes a type of wood, it is used for building work, but it is of lower quality. The tree called Sralao is a crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia). The pronunciation is "srolao", the second syllable is slightly stressed.
There are three brick sanctuaries lined up north-south and open to the east, the south tower is completely ruined, and not much is left of the central tower. This central Prasat had a Mandapa hall preceding it, the door frames of this former antechamber are still standing upright. Foundations are the only remains of the former east gate. The temple area itself is a thicket now, it is still surrounded by its original temple moat, which is very wide, in this respect similar to Banteay Srei and Prasat Thom in Koh Ker, too.
The historically informative inscription of Prasat Sralao is from a later period than the temple foundation. It claims, King Harshavarman III entered the throne in 1066/67. But the inscription of Prasat Prah Khset from 1067 only mentions him along with his predecessor Udayadityavarman II at the same time. This apparent contradiction can be solved by assuming that Udayadityavarman appointed his successor fellow ruler during the last years of his rule. However, the Sralao inscription verifies Harshavarman III reign in the year 1071/72. There are no records about this king for later dates. Presumably he ruled many more years, but in times of turmoil and invasions from the neighbouring Champa.
For seeing the most interesting details of Prasat Sralao you'd better travel to Phnom Penh and visit the National Museum, or even to Japan, as there is a lintel carving from Prasat Sralao exhibited in the Tokyo National Museum. The lintel in Phnom Penh depicts Vishnu on Garuda. That's a very common subject, but the Sralao lintel is of extraordinary beauty and technical perfection. The lintels of Prasat Sralao are rare examples of the Banteay Srei style. Apart from the famous loveliest Khmer work of art, Banteay Srei itself, there is no other temple of this style, except this remote ruin, Prasat Sralao. Remarkably the stone elements at Sralao's brick towers are made of the same red sandstone type that was used in Banteay Srei. There is only one more temple with this very special stone. The South Khleang close to the Angkor Thom main car park has red sandstone colonettes, it is a from the same period as Banteay Srei and Prasat Sralao. But the South Khleang has no reliefs on lintels. So Prasat Sralao was the only temple outside Banteay Srei with original Banteay Srei style decoration.
All in all there is not much left of the temple buildings and decorations in situ. However, the best preserved temple tower is picturesquely wrapped and surmounted by a tree, thus Prasat Sralao can be called a small "jungle temple". But honestly, Prasat Sralao is only worth a visit in case you have enough time to see all the famous Angkor monuments and like to discover some secluded special places additionally.
The wooded temple island and the surrounding paddy fields are considered to be free of landmines. But there is a residual risk that floods wash up landmines from other areas further north.
Prasat Sralao is situated 5 km north-west of Angkor Thom's North Gate, outside the Archaeological Park. You can visit it without ticket. Take the Korean sponsored bypass surrounding the Angkor Archaeological Zone. Starting close to the airport, it runs northwards crossing the area right in the middle between Angkor Thom (to the right) and the gigantic lake West Baray (to the left). Follow this Korean-Cambodian friendship road about 8 km and then turn left. There are only footpaths leading to Prasat Sralao. So be aware cars or tuktuks can not reach this temple, only motorbikes are suitable vehicles for this trip. The trail will be muddy after rainfall, or even impassable after heavy rainfall. You must walk the last 300 metres, because you have to cross a small dam not passable for bikes. There is another access path from the north, starting east of the village Svey Chek. It leads straight to the temple, but after rainfall it is partly under water and not passable. Indeed, Prasat Sralao is not easy to find. So you better try it with GPS or ask for the help of local persons who already visited this place.
The late morning is the better time of the day for studying the architecture. In the early afternoon there will be better sunlight on the jungletemple-tree. A ticket is not required for visiting this area to the west of Angkor Thom.