Siem Reap is unquestionably the most mesmerizing place in Cambodia. It boasts a charming mixture of stunning Khmer heritage with natural wonders. From Angkor wat to Tonle lake, there are so many things to discover in this exotic destinations.
These are the top places you should soak up to understand the value of Siem Reap
Banteay Srei temple
There are whispers that Banteay was formerly called Banteay Serai, which is translated to Citadel of Victory. This temple was built by a courtier called Yajnavaraha, a counselor to king Rajendravarman who was also a scholar and philanthropist. He is celebrated as having been empathetic and extended a helping hand to victims of poverty, injustice and diseases. The Banteay Srei temple remains the only major temple at Angkor a few meters from Siem Reap, that wasn’t built by a monarch.
Kulen Mountain National Park
The Kulen Mountain or Phnom Kulen, is a mountain massif that stands at 487 meters tall in Svay Leu District, 48 km from Siem Reap. Not only has it bed declared a national park, the Khmer Empire is also said to originate from here. In the 19th century when ancient Khmer temples were being built, stones were sourced from this sacred mountain. This mountain is also historical because in 802 A.D his majesty King Jayavarman II, the king during Cambodia’s independence, declared their freedom from java while standing on it.
Angkor Wat – heritage of Humanity and World Wonder
In Cambodia the term Angkor Wat means City temple. The Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple that is a true reflection of paradise. It is the only temple that since its foundation has remained a significant religious center and is the best preserved 12th century temple. It was built for King Suryavarman II and features the beautiful Khmer architecture design.
Angkor Thom refers to Big Angkor, and is the largest site in the Angkor Archeological Park. It is UNESCO World Heritage site and is found close to Siem Reap. This site was the last great capital of the Angkorian Empire and features a huge wall all around it with moat. After the defeat of the Cham invaders in 1181 by Jayavarman VII, the king captured the Angkorian Empire and flagged off a mammoth building program throughout the empire. Angkor Thom was constructed as the new capital and temples already in existence like Phimeanakas and Baphuon were encompassed into it.
Bayon is a beautifully adorned Khmer temple that was built either in the early 13th century, or the late 12th century. It was the last Angkor state temple to be built and the only one to be built specifically as dedication to the Buddha as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine. It stands at the center of King Jayavarman’s apital; afthough after his death successive kings augmented it to Hindu, the Theravada Buddhist king according to their different religious beliefs.
There are lots of things to look forward to when visiting Siem Reap in Cambodia and so you should not be just blinded by the tourist adored Tonle Sap Lake.
To explore Siem Reap differently, I suggest you to contact my friend Vireak Sot. Check out his site at www.guidingcambodia.com/