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Cambodia Day 4: Beng Mealea

Today would be our last day in cambodia as we would be heading back to phonm penh for the flight to thailand the next day. We decided to cover Beng Mealea today as it is located on the way to phonm penh and we can head back there after covering it. The temple is located 40 kms from siem reap and is thought to have been built at the same time Angkor Wat was built.

The temple is completely in ruins and only few walls are left standing. The temple has the carvings of the churning of the milky ocean. The walls also have very few carvings in them.

The ruins of Beng Mealea

IMG_5818_resizeIMG_5821_resizeWith moss growing everywhere the place has a mystical feel. One can get to feel and experience a Tomb Raider effect when you go to Beng Mealea. 

Moss covered Ruins

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IMG_5863_resizeWe spent some time walking around the ruins and exploring the small tunnels in the temple, before heading back to the Car to continue on the long drive to Phonm Penh thus ending a fantastic visit to the ancient empire.

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Cambodia Day 2 : The temples in Siem Reip

Day 2 of our journey started with an early breakfast and a drive to siem reip whcih has the main attractions such as bayon, angkor wat, angkor thom etc. Siem reip is 300 kms from Phonm penh and will take approx 5-6 hrs of driving. We departed from phonm penh to siem reip. The inital part of the journey was through the crowded city traffic and the progress was slow.  The roads in cambodia are not well developed. Lot of potholes remain and one has to be careful when driving. Progress was slow till we reached the city limits and soon we could pick up some speed. The speed limit on the highway is restricted to 60 kms and the drivers do not accelerate beyond that. The scenary also improved and the lush green fields greeted us. Couple of stops in between for few photos and we continued our journey.

Scenary outside phonm penh

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Couple more hours of driving and we reached siem reip and checked into our hotel. The guide and the driver who would take us around were already present there waiting for us. A brief introduction and we asked him for some time to freshen up before we could start exploring the temples.

We first visited the south gate of bayon temple and angkor thom which is the entrance to the bayon temple. The entrance to the temple has the stone carvings of asuras and the devas churning the milky ocean. Some of the stone faces are recent however many of the original stone faces are still present.

Entrance to Bayon

IMG_5374_resizeAngkor Thom was built by Raja jayavarman VII and is predominently a buddhist temple. The main attraction of the temple is the 4 faces of buddha carved throughout the temple.

The 4 face Buddha@ South gate Bayon

IMG_5382_resizeOnce you enter the south gate you can find airavat the 3 headed elephant of indira the king of gods. There are other carving as well along with the 3 headed elephant,

3 headed elephant

IMG_5383_resizeWe continued towards the main temple, which has 23 towers. There are two libraries which used to contain books related to religion on two far ends. These have been recently restored by the Govt of Japan. Each tower has the buddha faces carved in it. As with other temples in the angkor plain has carvings of apsaras on it. As we moved inwards, we came across the detailed carving of the king going into battle with his entourage. The carving shows the king on the elephant and followed by the soldiers. The carving also depicts the kind of weaponry used during the khmer reign.

Elegant carving of king going into battle

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We continued to explore the temple, taking snaps. The most famous of all the statues is the smiling buddha statue. We clicked few photos there before entering the interior of the temple.

Smiling Buddha

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The interior of the temple contains a buddha statue which is being worshipped. Spending some more time at the temple we headed out of the temple, to the next attraction “The Terrace of the Elephants” and “Terrace of the Leper King” which are located adjacent to each other.

The terrace of elephants is located at the east entrance of Bayon temple and it consists of images of Airavat and garuda carved in it. The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall.

Terrace of Elephants

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Next to the elephant terrace we have the terrace of the lepper king. This contains the carving of Yama the god of death. Most of the carvings have discoloration and it shows a person with leprosy, and also because it fit in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king Yasovarman I who had leprosy.

Terrace of Lepper King

IMG_5448_resizeIMG_5447_resizeWith Bayon complete out next visit was Banteay Kdei which is located a little distance away from The terrace of the lepper king.

The speciality of this temple is that the archway decrease in size as we go inwards and it extends out as we go out of the temple. The temple is again built in Bayon Style.

Banteay Kdei

IMG_5453_resizeOnce we enter the temple one can see the base of the linga present indicating this temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The sanctum sanctorum consists of a buddhist related structure. As per the guide this temple was vandalized supposedly by the king’s henchmen when he converted the people to buddhism and destroyed several carvings.

Linga and Buddhist Statue

IMG_5460_resizeIMG_5462_resizeThe outer portions of the temple has trees growing on the walls thus giving a mystical feel to the temple.

Walls covered with tree roots

IMG_5478_resizeAn exit at back of the temple completed our visit to this temple. The final temple in our list was Bakheng which is located atop the bakheng hill. One needs to walk a short distance up the hill to reach the temple. The temple is under renovation and one can see towers of Angkor Wat from the top.

Bakheng temple

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The structure is in ruins and only the sanctum sanctorum remains which houses a image of buddha. Taking few photos of Angkow wat towers we headed back to the car

Towers of Angkor Wat

IMG_5512_resizeA short rest for some snacks and we headed back to the hotel thus completing a well spent day.

 

Travel from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet Border (Thai border)

How to reach cambodia from Bangkok

getsetandgo

Cambodia is not a very easy place to reach, more so if you are budget traveler and looking to save money. It is not as well-connected by flights and the tickets are normally quite expensive. So, for my own budget trip, I had to put in numerous hours of research on the net and speak with loads of people and travel agents to decipher the best and cheapest way to reach Siem Reap. Since I had put in so much of an effort, I decided to write a detailed post on the best ways to reach Siem Reap from Bangkok for my other fellow travelers who too are struggling as I was.

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