Monday, March 20, 2017

Kbal Spean, Cambodia

Vishnu is all over the place
Since we’ve been to the Angkor Wat area quite a few times we wanted to see something different from the central Angkor area. After checking into the options, Kbal Spean sounded great, a nice jungle hike to some Angkorian carvings off the beaten path towards Phnom Kulen.

Start of the Trail
Trail Gets a Little Steeper
Kbal Spean (Bridge Head in Khmer) is an Angkorian era site on the slopes of the Kulen Hills in the Siem Reap Province of Cambodia. It is located along a 150 meter stretch of the Stung Kbal Spean River that’s located about 25 kilometers(16 mi) from the main Angkor Wat groups of monuments.
Vishnu and Linga

More Linga
The site consists of a series of stone rock relief carvings in the sandstone formations of the river bed and banks. It is commonly known as the “The River of a Thousand Lingas”. The motifs for the stone carvings are thousands of linga (phallic symbols) of the god Shiva. The linga are neatly arranged square bumps that cover the surface of the sandstone bed rock, and there are also square yoni (female principle) designs. There are many Hindu mythological motifs, including depictions of the gods Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi, Rama, Ganesh and Hanuman.

Hindu Gods


Ganesh
The Kbal Spean River is believed to be made sacred by flowing over the religious sculptures and eventually flows through the Angkor temple complex. The carvings are thought to have begun during the times of Hindu kings that ruled Angkor between the 11th and 12th centuries CE.

Yoni and Linga
The site was not discovered until 1968 when a hermit brought it to the attention of a French archeologist who was working in a nearby ruin. Shortly after, the site fell to the hands of the guerrillas during the bloody Khmer Rouge rule and was not opened to the public until 1998.

Vishnu Again

Helpful Stairs
The hike to the carvings takes about 45 minutes and is not too challenging except for a few places that involve climbing up and over fallen rocks along with a steep climbs. There are some stairs that help at the most difficult parts. Its good to wear hiking boots or something similar. The hike to Kbal Spean is fun and beautiful. Its suggested to arrive early to beat the heat and the crowd. An Angkor Pass is required for entry to hike the trail, and also an authorized guide must be with you.

Trail and Guide 
Kbal Spean different from the other temples you will see in this area. When we visited it was also fairly deserted (early). It was nice to be in a quiet place where you could enjoy the carvings and forest beauty without the crowds.

Highly recommended!

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