Photo: Tumbledown in places.

Bakheng

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It’s best known as a viewing point for sunset at Angkor Wat and if you’re fond of battling your way through the masses, all with cameras surgically attached to their faces or at a constant arm’s length from their body as though it’s in control of them and not they in control of it, then feel free to join them. The sunset climb of Bakheng should hardly be described as a unique and meaningful experience though.





Just eight kilometres from Siem Reap, Phnom Bakheng was the first temple to be constructed at the site we now call Angkor, known as Yashodharapura at the time after the king who built it, Yasovarman I, who reigned from 889 to 915. The temple was undoubtedly sited where it is because of the fantastic views to be obtained from the top of the 70-metre hill (phnom is Khmer for hill or mountain). Today, the view of the lotus-bud towers of Angkor Wat are considered the primary attraction, but Phnom Bakheng has far more interesting things going on than being simply a nice place to look at something else. It is also a giant astrological calendar.

The summit is not always a madhouse. Photo taken in or around Bakheng, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

The summit is not always a madhouse. Photo: Caroline Major

First and foremost, Bakheng was built as an earthly representation of Mount Meru, home of the Brahmanical gods and centre of the physical, metaphysical and spiritual universes. Other temple mountains of this kind, which are unique to Khmer architecture, include Bakong, Phimeanakas, Ta Keo, Pre Rup and, of course, ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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