- George Moore
Kbal Spean is located 47 kilometers north of Siem Reap, at the source of the river Ruisey in the western face of Phnom Kulen. The site owes its name to the naturally formed sandstone bridge that crosses the river. Over 1,000 Lingas and Hindu Gods have been carved in the bedrock and banks of the river which then flows south towards Angkor and Tonle Sap. To reach Kbal Spean, take the road north toward Banteay Srei and then East Mebon from the Angkor complex. When you reach a village called Phum Preah Dak you turn left and head north toward the Kulen mountains. After a further 13km you will reach the mountains and the car park will be at the foot of the mountains. You will also pass a small waterfall at the begining of the climb.
The most common route to explore the site is to start from the north and to make your way south along the river. The carvings spread over an area of 35 meters and the first of the Kbal Spean highlights you will come accross is the carving of the god Brahma depicted with four heads at the eastern edge of the river. As you descend following the river you will see carvings depicting the birht of Brahma, Shiva and Uma sitting on Ahiva's bull Nandi, and groups of lingas with a 25 centimetres long diameter.
Depending on the time of the year you visit Kbal Spean, the visibility of the carvings will vary. In the wet season (from May to October) the carvings are less visible due to the volume of water, although the natural beauty of the site will be more impressive. In the dry season (from November to May) the carvings become more clear. You could combine Kbal Spean with a visit to some of the Siem Reap temples further afield such as Banteay Srei.
Kbal Spean is not only an archaeologically interesting site but its beautiful natural surroundings make it a popular spot amongst locals for a day out. Although most tourists skip Kbal Spean, combining it with one of the nearby temples is a trip not to be missed. If you would like to see the magical carvings on the river bed please
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