- George Moore
Phnon Bok in Cambodia is one of the Siem Reap temples further afield, at 22.4 kilometers from the town center. It is one of the three sandstone temples that King Jasovarman I built on the three hills of the Angkor region ( the other two being Phnom Bakheng and Phnom Krom) after he moved the capital from Roluos to Angkor. It has a privileged location at 235 meters high and if you feel fit enough to ascend the 633 steep steps to gain the summit you will be rewarded with beautiful views of Phnom Kulen to the north and the Angkor plains to the south. Along with the view, Phnom Bok highlights include a 4 meter linga which is square at the bottom representing god Brahma, octogonal in the middle to represent Vishnu and round at the top to represent Shiva.
To travel from Siem Reap to Phnom Bok take Sivatha Road from Siem Reap town and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn right, and continue past Srah Srang, turning right along the north edge of the reservoir, until you reach Pre Rup. Turn right at the first road, pass Preah Dak village and continue on the road to Banteay Samre for 4,.7 kilometers and you sill see Phnom Bok on your left. The duration of the journey will be about 34 minutes by car and 45 minutes by Tuk Tuk. It is best to visit Phnom Bok early in the morning to avoid the heat, and you should allow about 40 minutes for the visit. You can enter and exit the temple from the east side.
Phnom Bok was built by King Yasovarman I in the late 9th early 10th century and was one of the three mountain temples built in the three hills of the Angkor region. These three majestic monuments were built soon after the monarch moved the capital from Roluos to Angkor and thus, Phnom Bok is one of the most ancient sites in Angkor. It is a Hindu temple dedicated to the Hindu trinity Shiva, Vishnu and Brahman. Phnom Bok has not been restored although attempts were made in 1939 to clear the site and overall the monument stands in a fairly good shape.
"When you climb the steep hill to the temple along the narrow paths you can't help but wonder how the Khmer managed to carry the heavy sandstone blocks through the jungle over 1,000 years ago! "
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