Earlier I had documented (mostly via pictures) about Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, and Bayon. Here in this blog I am concluding my 3-day tryst with Cambodia in the Siem Region, with pictorial commentary on last set of temple ruins that I have visited, which includes, Banteay Kdei, and Koh Ker (where we saw Shiva temple unbelievably ruined). I have also included few pics along with brief gist of Mount Kulen where we saw riverbed with over 1000 Shiv Lingas and few pics from what we saw around floating village of Tonle Sap.
Cambodia is one of the friendliest regions that I have visited so far. Folks here are extra warm and friendly, and aggression seems to be non-existing in their demeanors. Siem Reap is lot cleaner, greener, safer, littler free, and tourist friendly than many of the cities in India that I know of. Regions surrounding all the major ruins are kept extra clean, plush green, free of all commercial clutter & noise, limited traffic (and most of it is limited to two wheelers, including lots of cycles) and pretty inspiring
As usual, a trip with family of 6 is never easy. Aniketh commented Cambodia looks lot like Kompally village and why we have to come this far away to check out temple ruins. Revanth said, why do we need to eat Indian food after travelling 6000 miles, as the trip coordinator ensured that pucca desi food served (much to the ire of kids, and pleasure of elders). Mom and Dad had hard time walking around ruins; obviously none of them were wheel chair friendly, and struggled to enjoy cuisine, which lacked Hyderabadi style spice. But I did my best to ensure smiles on everyone’s face, for more than 70% of the time. Even God cannot keep everyone happy 100% of the time, so I can be given a break :-). Now, we are enroute to Hyderabad after a long halt at Changi airport.
Banteay Kdei, meaning “A Citadel of Chambers”, also known as “Citadel of Monks’ cells”, is a Buddhist temple in Angkor, Cambodia. It is located southeast of Ta Prohm and east of Angkor Thom. Built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD during the reign of Jayavarman VII, it is in the Bayon architectural style, similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. Its structures are contained within two successive enclosure walls, and consist of two concentric galleries from which emerge towers, preceded to the east by a cloister. This Buddhist monastic complex is currently dilapidated (which you can see from the pictures) due to faulty construction and poor quality of sandstone used in its buildings, and is now undergoing renovation. Monks had occupied Banteay Kdei at various intervals over the centuries until the 1960s
Full Video of Glimpses from trip to Camobodia
Pictures from visit to Banteay Kdei
Kbal Spean is another archaeological site on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills to the northeast of Angkor. The site consists of a series of stone carvings in sandstone formations carved in the riverbed and banks. It is popularly known as the “Valley of a 1000 Lingas” or “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. The motifs for stone carvings are mainly myriads of lingams (phallic symbol of Hindu god Shiva), depicted as neatly arranged bumps that cover the surface of sandstone bed rock. There are also various Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of the gods Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Rama, Hanuman, etc.,
Kbal Spean is also described as “a spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor”. The riverbed cuts through sandstone formations, and the many architectural sculptures of Hindu mythology have been carved within the sandstone. The archaeological site occurs in a stretch of the river starting from 150 metres upstream north of the bridgehead to the falls downstream, where many of my fellow travellers had a bath along with their beloved Guru. The river, being sanctified by flowing over the religious sculptures, flows downstream, bifurcating into the Siem Reap River and Puok River, which eventually flows into the Tonlé Sap Lake after passing through the plains and the Angkor temple complex.
Over 1000 Shiva Lingas on the river bed
Koh Ker is a remote archaeological site in northern Cambodia about 120 kilometres away from Siem Reap and the ancient site of Angkor. It is a very jungle filled region that is sparsely populated. More than 180 sanctuaries were found in a protected area of 81 square kilometres (31 sq mi). Tourists can visit only about 2 dozen monuments because most of the sanctuaries are hidden in the forest and the whole area is not fully demined.
Under the reign of the kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II Koh Ker was briefly the capital of the whole empire (928–944 AD). Jayavarman IV forced an ambitious building program. An enormous water-tank and about forty temples were constructed under his rule. The most significant temple‑complex, a double sanctuary (Prasat Thom/Prang), follows a linear plan and not a concentric one like most of the temples of the Khmer kings. Unparalleled is the seven‑tiered and 36-metre (118 ft) high pyramid, which most probably served as state temple of Jayavarman IV. Really impressive too are the shrines with the two‑meter 6 ft 7 in high lingas.
Under Jayavarman IV the style of Koh Ker was developed and the art of sculpture reached a pinnacle. A great variety of wonderful statues were chiseled. Because of its remoteness the site of Koh Ker was plundered many times by looters. Sculptures of Koh Ker can be found not only in different museums but also in private collections. Masterpieces of Koh Ker are offered occasionally at auctions. These pieces in present times are considered stolen art.
Obviously you will notice from the pictures that none of the above grandeur is any longer to be seen as entire template has been plundered and left with dilapidated ruins now.
Pictures from Visit to Koh Ker accompanied by Spiritual Leader Sri Sri Ravishankar
Be sure to check out other blogs related to Cambodia trip
https://saichintala.com/2015/03/26/smilingfacesofbayon/ (Bayon Temple)
https://saichintala.com/2015/03/25/artistic-angkor-wat/ (Artistic Angkor Wat)
https://saichintala.com/2015/03/25/ta-prohm-tomb-raider-famed-temple/ (Ta Prohm, Tomb Raider Famed Temple)