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Phnom Bakheng Will Amaze You. Here’s How!

PHNOM BAKHENG HISTORY

ប្រាសាទនេះត្រូវបានសាងសង់ឡើងនៅឆ្នាំ 907 នៅក្រោមព្រះបាទយសោវរ្ម័នទី 1 (គ្រប់គ្រង 889-915) នៅពេលគាត់បានផ្លាស់ប្តូររាជធានីទៅកាន់អង្គរពី ហរិហរៈ (រូលូស) ក្នុងឆ្នាំ 889 ។

Phnom Bakheng was built in 907 under Yasovarman I (ruled 889-915) when he moved the capital to Angkor from Hariharalaya (Roluos) in 889.

Angkor was the first city during that time. It was called Yasodharapura. It was an enormous city. It was likely larger than Angkor Thom, but now very little remains.

 

RELIGIOUS ORIENTATION

ប្រាសាទនេះត្រូវបានឧទ្ទិសដល់ព្រះសិវៈ

The temple is dedicated to the god Shiva, Hindu

LOCATION OF PHNOM BAKHENG TEMPLE

ប្រាសាទនេះមានទីតាំងស្ថិតនៅលើភ្នំធម្មជាតិមួយនៅខាងលិចនៃផ្លូវសំខាន់រវាងប្រាសាទអង្គរវត្តនិងអង្គរធំ។

The temple is located on a natural hill on the west side of the principal road running between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.


LENGTH OF VISIT

រយៈពេលទស្សនកិច្ចប្រាសាទប្រហែល 30 ទៅ 60 នាទី

It is estimated between 30 – 60 minutes.

ម៉ោងបើកនៅភ្នំបាខែងគឺនៅចន្លោះម៉ោង 5 ព្រឹកដល់ម៉ោង 5 និង 30 នាទីល្ងាច

Phnom Bakheng opening hours is between  5am – 5:30pm.

Phnom Bakheng has extended hours to accommodate sunrise visits.

If you go to Google and search a phrase “phnom bakheng sunrise”, Google will show you the following informative result.

Phnom Bakheng sunrise

By the way, if you search for “phnom bakheng sunset”, Google will show the following

Phnom Bakheng sunset

Phnom Bakheng is so famous. The crowd level rating is HIGH (at sunrise and sunset). Google will help you to find real time of sunset and sunrise. The busiest hours is between 4 PM till 6 PM. If you can not reach the temple before 4 PM, you will hard to have a seat to watch the sunset.

Phnom Bakheng sunset and sunrise

SUGGESTED STARTING POINT:

ច្រកចូលខាងកើតជាចំណុចចាប់ផ្តើមនៃការទស្សនា

the starting point is east side

SUGGESTED ENDING POINT:

ចំណុចបញ្ចប់ក៏ជាច្រកចូលខាងកើតផងដែរពីព្រោះភ្ញៀវទេសចរត្រូវចុះតាមបណ្តោយផ្លូវនៅខាងកើតប្រាសាទ

the ending point is also east side, because visitors are dropped off along the primary road on the temple’s east side.
Phnom Bakheng view

HIGHLIGHTS

ភ្នំបាខែងគឺជាកន្លែងមានប្រជាប្រិយបំផុតនៅអង្គរដើម្បីមើលថ្ងៃលិចនិងថ្ងៃរះ។ ប្រចាំថ្ងៃនាំមកនូវចំនួនភ្ញៀវទេសចរយ៉ាងច្រើនទៅកាន់កំពូលភ្នំ។

  • Phnom Bakheng is the most popular spot in Angkor to watch the sunset and sunrise. The daily event brings large numbers of visitors to the temple-mountain’s summit.

ទិដ្ឋភាពព្រះអាទិត្យរះល្អ ៗ ពីតំបន់ជុំវិញដែលគួរកត់សំគាល់បំផុត: ភាគអាគ្នេយ៍ប្រាសាទអង្គរវត្តនិងភាគពាយ័ព្យទៅបារាយណ៍ខាងលិច

  •  Excellent sunset views of surrounding areas, most notably: southeast to Angkor Wat and northwest to the West Baray.

ភ្នំបាខែងជាប្រាសាទភ្នំដំបូងគេនៃ (សម័យអង្គរ) ដែលជារាជធានីនៃអាណាចក្រខ្មែរអស់រយៈពេល 500 ឆ្នាំមកហើយ។

  • Phnom Bakheng stands as the first temple-mountain of Yasodharapura (modern-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer empire for 500 years.
  • First use of the trademark Khmer quincunx five-tower arrangement in Angkor.

ភ្នំបាខែងដែលមានកំពស់ជាង 230 ហ្វីតត្រូវបានកសាងឡើងនៅលើភ្នំដែលមានឈ្មោះដូចគ្នា។ អត្ថន័យគឺទីក្រុងនៃសិរីរុងរឿងដែលជារាជធានីថ្មីរបស់ព្រះបាទយសោវរ្ម័នទី 1

  • Phnom Bakheng, a height of more than 230 feet (70 meters), was built on a mountain with the same name known as the center of Yasodharapura. The meaning is  The City Of Glory, which was the new capital of Yashovarman I.

វាគឺជាទីក្រុងធំបំផុតមួយនៅលើពិភពលោកនៅពេលនោះ។ វាត្រូវបានហ៊ុំព័ទ្ធដោយជញ្ជាំងព័ទ្ធជុំវិញ 2.5 ម៉ាយ (4 គីឡូម៉ែត្រ) នៅម្ខាងនិងដោយរូងដែលមានទំហំ 656 ហ្វីត (200 ម) ទទឹង

  • It was one of the largest cities in the world at the time. It was surrounded by an enclosure wall 2.5 miles (4 km) per side and by moats that are 656 ft (200 m) wide

ដើម្បីផ្គត់ផ្គងរាជធានីថ្មីរបស់គាត់ជាមួយទឹកព្រះមហាក្សត្របានបញ្ជាឱ្យជីកបារាយណ៍ដែលគេស្គាល់ថាបារាយណ៍ខាងកើត។ វាមានទទឹងជាង 22965 ft (7000 m) និងទទឹង 5905 ft (1800 m) ។

  • To supply his new capital with water, the king ordered the excavation of the Yashodharatataka known as the East Baray. It is more than 22965 ft (7000 m) long and 5905 ft (1800 m) wide.

ប្រាសាទនេះអាចចូលទៅដល់បានទាំងតាមរយៈជណ្តើរដ៏ចោតដើមដែលអមដោយរូបសំណាកតោហើយនឹងផ្លូវដំរីដែលចាប់ផ្តើមពីខាងឆ្វេង។

  • the temple is accessible both via the original steep stairway flanked by roaring lions and by the so-called Elephant path beginning on the left.
  • there are sixty small sandstone shrines adorn the six levels
  • Unlike Angkor’s other temple-mountains, this is not a built pyramid, but rather employs the natural hill as support. The terraces of the six levels were cut directly into the rock of the hill and then faced with sandstone to give the appearance of built architecture.

You can ride an elephant to the temple-mountain. I am not sure about the fee, because the fee can be different from national tourists to international tourists.

an elephant near Phnom Bakheng

DECORATION

Apsara guardians compared, Phnom Bakheng (left, carved in 907) and Lolei (right, carved in 893)

Most of Phnom Bakheng’s decoration has been lost, but the principal sanctuary holds well-rendered apsara guardians. they share a number of basic features with those made 20-30 years earlier in Roluos, at the temples of Lolei, Preah Ko and Bakong— eg, they hold fly whisks and lotus flowers and wear similar sampots — the apsaras reveal some distinctive features; see the comparison in above picture.

  • Apsaras at Phnom Bakheng tilt their heads slightly to the side, rather than look straight ahead, as at Lolei.
  • The multi-lobed-arch niches at Phnom Bakheng more tightly frame the apsaras’ bodies.
  • The depth of relief at Phnom Bakheng is lower than at Lolei.

VISIT

Visitors can ascend long stairways to the principle platform that supports the temple-mountain. It’s about 393 x 607 ft (120 x 185 m) with remains of pillars. You will pass by a brick stupa and a small pavilion with Budhha’s footprint. You will come to the first laterite wall and another one that has the ruins of an entrance pavilion. There are two sandstone libraries. On the other side of the libraries, there is a temple pyramid. The temple pyramid has five tiers. They were cut out of the rock in the hills. They were faced with sandstone, and they have four axial stairways with ramps flanked by tall buttresses dominated by sculptures of guardian lions. The temple pyramid has 44 brick towers with the entrance to the east and three blind doors, except the towers on the east side which open out both eastward and the eight towers that flank the four stairways which have one or two real doors. The best-preserved tower is on the west side.

When you approach the east stairway, at the left side you will see a nice statue pedestal near a foundation stone with holes. It is a Nandi bull. There are Nandi bull statues in front of the west and north stairways, but there is one polychrome Nandi status was recently restored. It is at the base of the south stairway.

Nandi bull on Phnom Bakheng

The pyramid is 249 ft(76 m) per side at the base and 154 ft (47 m) at the top, and it is 43 ft (13 m) high. Its terrace has twelve sandstone shrines.  Four  sandstone shrines are at the corners , and other two are beside each stairway, with a single entrance facing east. These structures have four stories, and they are topped by a lotus bud.

beautiful sandstone shrine on Phnom Bakheng

On the top terrace, there is a platform which is 101 ft (31 m) per side and more than 5 ft (1.5 m) high. The platform has five prasats (the quincunx five-tower arrangement), four on the corners and one in the middle. However, only the central tower over the sanctuary remains. All of them had four real doors. The central prasat (red rectangle highlight) is larger and stucco decoration. From the top to the southwest you have a fine view of the Angkor Wat reservoir and temple.

Phnom Bakheng Layout

The central prasat is the sum of all the others and having the lingam in its cella, it refers to the bindu, the point-instant that gives rise to space and time, hence the universe.  The central prasat, the supreme peak of Mt. Meru, is the beginning and end of the construction, as well as the symbol of the governing power that descends to the Earth, radiating from the cella, and of its guardian – the king – who upon his death is deified and ascends to the heavens.

Bakheng is one of the most powerful representations of Mt. Meru and seems to encompass further magical-esoteric meaning. The total number of the Prasats at Bakheng, which symbolically rotate around the central one, is 108 (44 at the base, 60 on the terraces, and four on the summit). This number alludes to the totality of the universe, and it is also the result of the multiplication of the number 27, the days of the sidereal month, by four, which stands for the four phases of the moon (new moon, waxing moon, warning moon, full moon). Furthermore, there are 108 principal names of Shiva and the same number of grains of the mala, the Indian crown-rosary.

An analysis of the distribution of the other prasats shows that each of the five terraces of the pyramid has 12 small towers, for a total of 60. In Indian tradition there are 12 sign of the zodiac and there are 12 animals in the Chinese astrological cycle, from which the Khmer drew inspiration. Moreover, it takes the planet Jupiter about 12 years to revolve around the Sun and pass through the entire zodiac, which the Sun traverses in a year. The cycle of Jupiter lasted 60 solar years, divided into five cycles of 12 years each, and this was also part of Khmer culture.

Therefore, with its five terraces and their 60 prasats, Bakheng reproduces an entire Jovian years by utilizing the numbers 12 and 60.

Furthermore, the seven levels of Bakheng, that is, the base, the five terraces and the platform of the quincunx, refer both to the levels of Mt. Meru and to the saptaloka, the ‘seven heavens’ of the Hindu deities. Again, it seems that the particular placement of the towers and their different sizes are such that the viewer standing in the middle of each side, that is, in correspondence with the cardinal points, should see always and only 33 prasats; and in fact there are 33 principal Hindu divinities Mt. Meru hosts the court of the gods, and its reproduction in the middle of human cities reasserts the king’s desire to have his capital mirror divinity. The various inscriptions underscore this by comparing Yashovarman to Mt. Meru, to Indra the king of the gods, and to Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the divinities of the Trimurti. Phnom Bakheng is a must visit temple for everyone.

 

Personally I am pleased to appreciate you reading my post. I am happy to hear from you visiting my country to see all temples, and I am happy to promote all temples to the world. They are a great place for you to enjoy your vacation, and I am pleased to recommend you the following books which can help you know more about my temples. These books describe all temples information very clear. The books contains all nice pictures relating to each temple. I pick most of information from these two books, so i hope you can find them on Amazon. By the way, there are many Angkor Wat tour guide that can help you visit more temples surrounding there.

The treasure of angkor
Guide to the temples of Angkor
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Phnom Bakheng Will Amaze You. Here's How!
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Phnom Bakheng Will Amaze You. Here's How!
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Phnom Bakheng is the most popular spot in Angkor to watch the sunset and sunrise. The temple was built in 907 under Yasovarman I (ruled 889-915) when he moved the capital to Angkor from Hariharalaya (Roluos) in 889.
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San
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26 thoughts on “Phnom Bakheng Will Amaze You. Here’s How!”

  1. I’ll have to visit in early morning, I love sunrise and don’t like it too crowded. 6 AM is not too early if the distance to a guesthouse is not too far.

    Where are the closest accommodations to sleep when visiting the Phnom Bakheng and the whole Angkor Wat site in general for one or two days?

    • All hotels are in local city. You will take around 15 to 20 minutes based on real traffic. Normally you should leave the hotel around 5:30AM because many people’s visit the temple-mountain early also. If you want only visits some temples, 3 days is enough. So you can tell your travel agent, he will try to help you. 

  2. What an interesting destination – I would love to go and I’m interested in finding out more about it’s area. 

    I think that I’d opt to go for the morning sunrise, as I’m a bit of an early starter. How far away is the local town/city with the hotels etc? What time would I have to get up to travel there, and factor in the traffic etc – are there bus routes that go straight there?

    • All hotels locate in local city, so you can leave your hotel around 5 AM. You can ride a bycicle or Tuk Tuk. It should take between 20 to 30 mn. Then you have to walk to the temple mountain and you can spent 15mn to 30 mn. To reach the temple, you can ride an elephant also. But I don’t know how much it costs 

  3. Wow, Phnom Bakheng looks like a breathtaking place to visit. Like you say the sunset looks really spectacular. I searched it on google for an image and it looks like a really special place to visit. And the history of the place sounds amazing too. We love visiting places with rich histories. 

    What’s the best time of year to plan a visit to Phnom Bakheng? 

    • Thank you. Yes the temple is a breathtaking place. You should not visit the temple between September and October, because it’s a raining season during that periods

  4. Many thanks for sharing great insights including the history the famous Phnom Bakheng. Very interesting read. I would love an opportunity to someday visit Yasodhapura (formerly Angkor). That Angkor has been the capital of the Khmer empire for 500 years is quite something. I agree the adventure there is one to reckon.

    Thanks and best regards.

  5. Wow, this place sounds amazing. I really love travelling to places packed with culture because I want to see how people live from all walks of life. People’s culture varies so much it’s so interesting to see ones other than mine.

    Also, I really like the history of the place, it sounds really interesting and I would love to have a tour of the place to find out a little more! Thanks for featuring this lovely place and I will have to look into it some more.

  6. One of the most fascinating place to be and experience the magic of nature is Phnom Bakheng..I have always heard of this amazing temple and huge number of visitors it always attracts because of the vivid sight of the rise of the sun and sunset.Mother use to tell me about this historical place and most times it kindles a high flame of interest to just visit Phnom Bakheng..historical place like this is not common..I really love this article bringing to my memory the long awaiting interest I have for this great temple

  7. I love reading about places I’ve never been and putting them on my bucket list so I can check them off anytime in the near future. Phnom Bakheng has an interesting history. I really hope I’ll get the chance to ride an elephant and watch the sunset when I’m on the top terrace of the platform as this place looks like a fairytale. I’ll let you know as soon as travel to Phnom Bakheng. 

    • Welcome to Phnom Bakheng. It’s enjoyable to ride on an elephant, seeing beautiful scenery along the hill. The hotels are affordable and tour are ready to help you. 

  8. This looks like a nice place to visit, still it looks like a place where nature and humans are living in harmony together.

    Now, I’m always been fascinated by temples, and this has an interesting history.

    I think lots of people are visiting it, so I think I would go in the late evening or the early morning, do you agree with that?

    Thanks for sharing this interesting post!

    • Yes you are right. Tourists take their time visiting other temples. When the afternoon comes, they departure to Phnom Bakheng to enjoy sunset, taking photos and breathing pure air 

  9. This already sounds like an impressive place to visit and learn about the historical culture of the Cambodian people. I am deeply fascinated by culture and history and to be at this temple, learning about the rich culture that surrounds its existence will be super exciting and I look forward to it someday. Thank you San, for always sharing these wonderful articles. 

  10. My sister has visited Phnom Bakheng and her photos were just amazing! I will have to brush up on my photography skills so that I can really capture the breathtaking sunrise and sunset. Reading your article has reminded me that I really need to organise myself so that I can visit this cultural beauty.   

  11. Yeah we surely learn everyday I did not know about PHNOM BAKHENG TEMPLE that is dedicated to Hindu god shiva and was built in 907 under Yasovarman I (ruled 889-915) when he moved the capital to Angkor from Hariharalaya (Roluos) in 889 moreover, it takes the planet Jupiter about 12 years to revolve around the Sun and pass through the entire zodiac, which the Sun traverses in a year. The cycle of Jupiter lasted 60 solar years, divided into five cycles of 12 years each, and this was also part of Khmer culture.These absolutely sounds intriguing and interesting.

    Thank you again this is insightful and knowledgeable and  all the best.

  12. This is an insightful review. I have never heard of this place before, it seems very interesting and I always like to read about the history of these places. It would awesome to visit and enjoy the actual scenery. The sunset looks amazing and the elephant ride would really be adventurous. 

    Thanks for sharing this post about this historical site.

  13. Phnom Bakheng is the great creation of man of the previous civilization should be preserved for today and tomorrow. We know that in 1993, Angkor entered the UNESCO World Heritage List. This was the result of fears of uncontrolled tourism. The state is taking action, but the conscious attitude of the traveler and his volunteer initiative will help the cause. 

    I was struck by your description of the history, architecture and symbolism of the pyramidal complex Phnom Bakheng.I am very interested in historical and religious information.Studying such a miracle of human creation is worth spending a lot of personal time. 

    Thank you for your topic. Mark

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