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1.Mystery of Angkor Wat
This section as intended as a guide for visiting the monuments at Angkor. It can be either read in advance of a visit or afterwards to reinforce the experience, or used at the sites to enable the visitor to be an active spectator. Historical quotes from early visitors to Angkor are included where appropriate to try to capture the spirit of its past glory.
Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage.
It also has a major symbolic importance for Cambodians as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, for it was at Phnom Kulen that KingJayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE. Jayavarman II initiated the cult of the king, a linga cult, in what is dated as 804 CE and declaring his independence from Java of whom the Khmer had been a vassalage state (whether this is actually "Java" or "Lava" (a Lao kingdom) is debated, as well as the legend that he was earlier held as a ransom of the kingdom in Java. See Higham's The Civilization of Angkor for more information about the debate).During the Angkorian era the relief was known as Mahendraparvata (the mountain of GreatIndra).
The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu lying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.
Near these mountains is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th-century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest.
The Samré tribe was formerly living at the edge of Phnom Kulen, quarrying sandstone and transporting it to the royal sites.
The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979.
Chup Preah is a stream flowing into the mountain’s valley. Ku Len Mountain has two waterfalls. The first is between four and five metres high with a diameter of 20 to 25 metres. The second waterfall is 15 to 20 metres high and has a diameter of 10 to 15 metres. These sizes apply to the dry and rainy seasons.
Preah Ang Thom houses a large statue of Buddha. It was built in the 16th century and is eight metres high. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for Ku Len Mountain. There are also two large Cham Pa trees nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, Chhok Ruot, footprints of Preah Bat Choan Tuk, Peung Chhok, Peung Ey So and Peung Ey Sey, can also be seen.
The Linga is along the river of Siem Reap and has a lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.
The Terrace of Sdach Kum Ling has a small brick-built ruined temple in its centre. It was covered by lava for hundreds of years.
3. Beng Mealea Temple
Beng Mealea or Bung Mealea (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបឹងមាលា, its name means "lotus pond") is a temple in the Angkor Wat style located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.
It was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. For years it was difficult to reach, but a road recently built to the temple complex of Koh Ker passes Beng Mealea and more visitors are coming to the site, as it is 77 km from Siem Reap by road.
The corridor in the temple.
The history of the temple is unknown and it can be dated only by its architectural style, identical to Angkor Wat, so scholars assumed it was built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Smaller in size than Angkor Wat, the king's main monument, Beng Mealea nonetheless ranks among the Khmer empire's larger temples: the gallery which forms the outer enclosure of the temple is 181 m by 152 m. It was the center of a town, surrounded by a moat 1025 m by 875 m large and 45 m wide.
Beng Mealea is oriented toward the east, but has entranceways from the other three cardinal directions. The basic layout is three enclosing galleries around a central sanctuary, collapsed at present. The enclosures are tied with "cruciform cloisters", like Angkor Wat. Structures known as libraries lie to the right and left of the avenue that leads in from the east. There is extensive carving of scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Churning of the Sea of Milk and Vishnu being borne by the bird god Garuda. Causeways have long balustrades formed by bodies of the seven-headed Naga serpent.
It was built mostly of sandstone: Beng Mealea is only 7 km far from the angkorian sandstone quarries of Phnom Kulen, as the crow flies. Presumably sandstone blocks used for Angkor were transported along artificial water canals and passed from here. Despite of lack of information, the quality of architecture and decorations has drawn the attention of French scholars just from its discovery.