Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kulen Mount

Kulen Mount
is located between Svay Leu District and Va Rin District in Siem Reap Province. It is in 48-kilometer distance from the provincial town of Siem Reap by a short cut or in 50-kilometer distance from the provincial town of Siem Reap via Sal Deu Gol Road, small circle, big circle, Preah Dak, Road A66, and then turning to the Malaysian-Developed Road.It was established during the Angkorean period by King Jayavarman II in the 9th century. It was named then as Mahendraparvata; a dedication to Mahendraparvata became a worshipping place for the Theravada Buddhism. It is well known as a sacred place of the Khmer people. During the constructional period of the ancient temples, sandy stones were brought from this sacred mountain. The means of transport were bamboo-rafting and elephant-towing. The mainattraction of this resort is the River of One Thousand Lingas or Kulen Waterfall.Recently, the resort has become not only a place of worship, but also a historical, cultural, and natural tourist resort.

Jayavarman II was the founder of the Khmer empire, and he proclaimed himself a devaraja or god king (deva = god, raja = king) possessing similar powers to the Hindu god Shiva. You'll find that this god-king theme was also adopted by his 'successors' throughout Angkor Wat's history.Jayavarman II built a temple mountain at Phnom Kulen (Kulen Hill/Mountain), and this was where he held his court. He built it on a mountain to mimic Shiva's dwelling place, the mythical Mt. Meru. By setting up his court at the top of the mountain, he was saying that Phnom Kulen was the center of the universe and that he was the king. To this day, Phnom Kulen is the most sacred site for Cambodians. Later on in history, the court was moved to Rolous.
The Phnom Kulen is no doubt the mount the most sacred of Cambodia and a very active pilgrimage place. King Jayavarman II proclaimed there independence of the country during the IXth century and dissociated the country from the Kingdom of Java. A big Buddha lying in its temple and sculpted in the rock is overlooking the vicinity.

From Siem Reap (app. 50 kms - 1h45mns drive), take the road to the temples till Banteay Srei then a trail through a dense jungle leads you to the top. First visit of the place to the sanctuary housing the Buddha where you will admire the forest around. A statue dedicated to Jayavarman II and a footprint of Buddha complete the visit.
Move to the river then, where a portion of bed is sculpted with lingas and other sculptures, before transferring to the waterfalls where you will be able to freshen up. The same water passes through Siem Reap and pours out into the Tonle Sap lake.

* Programme: morning departure via Banteay Srei. Visit the Phnom Kulen and vicinity. Return after 12pm. Lunch available both on the spot or in front of Banteay Srei where many restaurants stand.The trail leading to the Phnom Kulen is a one-way due to the closeness of some parts of road. The ascent is done compulsorily before 11am and the return is done compulsorily after 12pm.This excursion may be combined with one of our programmes SIT-ANG or SIT-KH.

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