Ek Phnom and Wat Baset

Ek Phnom and Wat Baset

A fine taster for Angkor

More on Battambang

Wat Ek, often called Ek Phnom, dates back to the 11th century and is one of the most visited attractions around Battambang.

Travelfish says:
Incredible handiwork. Photo by: Stuart McDonald.
Incredible handiwork. Photo: Stuart McDonald

The temple originally dates to the early 11th century and reign of Suryavarman I and consists of inner and outer walls and a large central shrine with entrance portico on a raised central platform—hence ‘Phnom’.

The temple’s construction was ordered by the king himself as his famous “temple of the west”, so unusually for a provincial temple, it’s mostly made from the more expensive sandstone rather than cheaper laterite. This temple is often combined with nearby Wat Baset site to make a longer trip, but if you only want to see one, prioritise Wat Ek over the latter, which is in a sorry state. Often known locally as the “ruined ruin”, constructed by the same king, Wat Baset was originally the larger of the two.

The old and new. Photo by: Stuart McDonald.
The old and new. Photo: Stuart McDonald

For some reason the Khmer Rouge had it in for this site, which they attempted to dismantle before a series of accidents fortunately convinced them the spirits weren’t happy so they left off. In more recent times a misguided local thought he’d improve the ruins by painting the remaining carvings yellow and blue, though it is happily beginning to wear off now. These days the scattered piles of rubble are hard to decipher, though there are amazingly still some excellent lintels ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 200 words.)

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Reviewed by

Based in Chiang Mai, Mark Ord has been travelling Southeast Asia for over two decades and first crossed paths with Travelfish on Ko Lipe in the early 1990s.

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