The walls surrounding the pyramid temple of Phimeanakas are five meters high and remain relatively intact and standing. Phimeanakas is a three-tiered temple located next to the much larger Baphuon temple.
Perhaps the most spectacular things about Phimeanakas are the pools behind the temple, which ancient royals once used for ritual washing. Today, these ponds with crocodile carved stone walls are mainly used for swimming, fishing, and cooling off in Angkor Thom’s hot weather.
Those wishing to climb to the top of Phimeanakas must use a narrow and steep wooden staircase with a railing whose width can only fit one person at a time.
These 12 small towers lined in a row are also known as the ’Temple of the Rope Dancers’ and are best seen from the nearby Elephant Terrace. It’s been said these dozen towers were once connected by ropes which were used by dancers or acrobats.
Another theory is that the towers were once used to solve conflicts. Each person involved in a particular dispute would be locked inside one of the towers for many days until one person became ill. The sick person would be considered wicked while the healthy person was declared the winner in this system known as ‘celestial judgment.’
The dozen Prasat Suor Prat towers occupy such a large amount of space it’s hard to get all 12 towers in a single photograph.Roluos Group
Roluos is the name of the former Khmer Kingdom capital situated approximately 13kms southeast of Siem Reap, and the three temples known as the Roluos Group are centuries older than Angkor Wat.
The biggest and most significant of the three Roluos Group temples is Bakong, the first temple in the region to be built in the temple mountain design which would also influence countless other temples in the area. A moat surrounds Bakong. The other two Roluos Group temples are Preah Ko, surrounded by three bull statues, and Lolei, whose original six brick towers have now been reduced to four.
This red sandstone temple with intricate wall carvings of historic scenes and women bearing lotus flowers is situated 35kms from Siem Reap and 37kms north of Angkor Wat.
Although Banteay Srey’s location close to the Phnom Dei hill lies a fair distance from most of the area’s other temples, it is well worth the journey by motorcycle or car. Banteay Srey’s buildings are relatively small in size compared to the majority of other nearby temples.
A visit to the ninth century hilltop Phnom Krom temple can be easily combined with a leisurely boat trip down the nearby Tonle Sap Lake. Those who decide to stay on dry land can still enjoy the view of Tonle Sap from the inside of Phnom Krom, situated just 12kms southwest of Siem Reap.
Seven steps separate each of Phnom Krom’s three temples from each other. The top tower is dedicated to Vishnu, the middle tower is dedicated to Shiva, and the bottommost tower to Brahma. A wall encloses the entire Phnom Krom temple.
Beng Mealea’s location 80kms east of Siem Reap may be further off the beaten path than most other temples, but many visitors believe the distance is worth it. Only a handful of trees have been removed from the vegetation growing around Beng Mealea, and visitors can even climb through windows and over walls for further access to the temple. Beng Mealea is also one of the few temple sites with virtually no vendors.
Visitors must stroll through a kilometer and a half of Cambodian rain forests and a small waterfall to reach the numerous and intricate Kbal Spean carvings, located 25kms from Angkor Thom.
Kbal Span is called the valley of 1,000 lingas, the name of the sculptures dug into riverbeds to fertilize the water and provide irrigation to the rice fields. Most of Kbal Spean’s carvings are estimated to date from the 11th to the 13th centuries.
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