The northern and southern Khleangs (also romanized "Kleangs") are located on the east side of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom, behind the towers of Prasat Suor Prat. The North Khleang, opposite to the Lepper King terrace, is a few decades older. It is also slightly wider than the South Khleang. Furthermore, the northern Khleang has much more carvings than its younger twin temple.
Within the North Khleang compound, there are inscriptions mentioning Jayaviravarman as the the king who constructed it. Not much is known about this king who reigned only during a short period of time, between 1002 and 1006. He finally lost a long civil war against the future king Suryavarman I who then reigned half a century and became one of the most powerful Angkor rulers, besides later-on kings Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII. But most probably, the northern Khleang was already constructed or at least begun under Jayavarman V (968-1001). It is the art period during this king's reign refered to by the term "Khleang-style".
The North Khleang is a rectangular sandstone building of unknown purpose. "Khleang" means "storeroom", but it is unlikely that this was its actual function. A royal oath of allegiance carved into the door jambs indicates that the Khleang may have served as a reception or even an accommodation for ambassadors or other high-ranking guests. But even in this case the Khleang would have been a secular building. Apart from bridges, it would have been the only sandstone construction without religious means. This is not convincing. At least some ceremonies with religious connotations must have been the purpose of such sandstone buildings of considerable size.
The North Khleang is erected on a tall platform, the edifice is 4.7 m wide and more than 60 m long, on a north-south axis. The walls are 1.5 m thick. Originally it was only a large rectangular hall, but later on it was split into two by the addition of a central tower. Small porches at the front and back sides of the tower made the floor plan slightly cruciform in shape. Windows are evenly spaced across the halls on either side of the central tower. Their ballusters are of excellent quality.
In front of the northern Khleang there is a cruciform terrace facing the Royal Square. To the rear of the North Khleang there is a courtyard with a small temple and, behind it, a laterite wall enclosing a compound with another small temple on a platform and with two library buildings.
The restrained decoration style of the Khleangs would later be called the Khleang art period, it is characterised by panels with a central Kala monster head and luxuriant foliate scrolls, but less figurative decoration. Other buildings from the same period are Phimeanakas and Ta Keo.
There is no specific time of the day more recommendable than others for a visit of this monument. A ticket is required for access to Angkor Thom, it will be checked at the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat, but not in the area of the Khleangs.