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Phnom Kulen

Listed under Mountains in Cambodia.

  • Photo of Phnom Kulen
  • Photo of Phnom Kulen
Photo of Phnom Kulen
Photo by flickr user Narith5
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This mountain is most sacred to the Khmer people, it was from its peak in 802 that the Cambodian nation was born, when Jayarvarman II split from Java, declaring himself a Hindu god in the process… This was also the last bastion of the Khmer Rouge who holed up here after they lost power in 1979.

Jayarvarman, as well as being a bit of a despot by the sounds of things, had an eye for art and an unusual way of decorating his favourite places - one of them being this mountain – by having the waters of the streams diverted and the river beds caved with patterns and images, in one place hundreds of phallic symbols, in another a detailed rendering of the Hindu god Vishnu and his wife Lakshmi.

It’s a very popular pilgrimage destination, it takes about an hour and a half to climb to the plateau at the top, but also a picnic spot. Once you get to the top you can take a dip in one of the decorated pools or streams under a lovely waterfall, take some photos of the unusual carvings and have a poke around an Angkor temple.

Buddhists adopted the site after the Hindu heyday and a short distance from the watery temple complex there’s a Buddhist monastery. Erected in the 16th Century, this temple’s pride and joy is a 17m long Buddha. This is a working monastery and as well as the picnicking families frolicking in the pools and under the falls you can spot monks washing their orange robes in the waters.

Written by  World Reviewer Staff.

Other expert and press reviews

“Beyond, Literally, Angkor Wat”

By Steve Friess for Time First Published: Monday, Apr. 29, 2002 Cambodia presents a few problems for people traveling with children. All those skulls at the Killing Fields near Phnom Penh will induce nightmares, and hiking untold acres of stone temples… Read more...

Written by press. Continue reading on time.com

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