Wat An Kau Sai
The small ancient structure inside the compound of Wat An Kao Sai is also called "Preah Enkosei" or "Prah Indra Kaosrey" in history books. The ancient complex consists of Prasat towers and foundations of an enclosure and two fire shrines and of upright standing stone doors of a former East Gopuram.
The temple proper originally had three aligned Khmer Prasats, but only two remain. There is now a modern stupa (chedi) on the basis of the third one. The two original Prasats are restored. They are of different size, one with a five-level roof, the other one with only four. Remarkably, the higher Prasat is not the one placed in the centre of the triple Prasat ensemble. By the way, the remaining northern tower (the former central one) is the only complete brick Prasat of Angkor.
The inscription at the door jambs of the taller tower is dated 968. It is an important source for historians. Vers 21 mentions a dignitary called Divakarabhatta, who married a sister of King Jayavarman V. It says he was born at the Kalindi river, the Khmer name for the Yamuna in India. This could mean that he was an Indian or of Indian origin. The era of the two succeeding kings Rajendravarman II and Jayavarman V was marked by both a renaissance of Indian influence and a more prominent role of court dignitaries.
Verse 29 of part B of the Wat An Kau Sai inscription (dated 983) mentions trade with China and imported commodities such as gold, jewels, pearls, and cloth. This is remarkable, because the basis of the Angkor empire was agriculture, in contrast to the former Cambodian era Funan that originated from maritime trade in the first place. From that Wat An Kau Sai inscription we learn that trade remained to play an important role during the Angkorian era as well.
The pediment reliefs above the Prasat doors are excellent. They could be the oldest representation of such well-known subjects as Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana and the Churning of the Milk Ocean that later on became very common in Khmer art. The naive style of the depictions is extraordinary.
The ancient structure at Wat An Kao Sai is similar to Bei Prasat or to the five towers of Prasat Kravan in the Angkor archaeological zone. In the tenth century, kings granted to priests and other court officials the privilege to built their own temples. Those smaller-sized monuments are called "private temples". Prasat Kravan and Bat Chum are two more well-known examples in Angkor. The most famous one, of course, is Banteay Srei 40 km further north. Wat An Kao Sai (Enkosei) inside Siem Reap is one of those first "private temples".
Wat An Kao Sai is less frequented by tourist, but the location inside a pagoda, close to the green space along the Siem Reap river, is not without charme. The best time to visit it is the morning, when you can see the exquisite stone carvings in the sunlight. An Angkor ticket is not required at Wat An Kao Sai.