Phnom Kulen appears as a long, continuous silhouette in the background
|Elevation||487 m (1,598 ft)|
Rather than a hill range, Phnom Kulen is an isolated chain of small mountain plateaux of moderate height lying south of the Dângrêk Mountains. The range stretches for about 40 km in a WNW - ESE direction and is located some 48 km north of Siem Reap.
Its highest point is 487 m and its height is quite regular, averaging 400 m all along the range.
There is a sanctuary in the area, Phnom Kulen National Park, straddling the districts of Svay Len and Va Rin. Its purpose is recreational and scientific in order to preserve the natural scenic features of Phnom Kulen mountain, like some famous waterfalls.
The park is located about 48 km to the north of the provincial town of Siem Reap.
World Heritage Status
It also has a major symbolic importance for Cambodians as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, for it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE. Jayavarman II initiated the cult of the king, a linga cult, in what is dated as 804 CE and declaring his independence from Java of whom the Khmer had been a vassalage state (whether this is actually "Java" or "Lava" (a Lao kingdom) is debated, as well as the legend that he was earlier held as a ransom of the kingdom in Java. See Higham's The Civilization of Angkor for more information about the debate). During the Angkorian era the relief was known as Mahendraparvata (the mountain of Great Indra).
The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu laying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.
The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979.
Chup Preah is a stream flowing into the mountain’s valley. Ku Len Mountain has two waterfalls. The first is between four and five metres high with a diameter of 20 to 25 metres. The second waterfall is 15 to 20 metres high and has a diameter of 10 to 15 metres. These sizes apply to the dry and rainy seasons.
Preah Ang Thom houses a large statue of Buddha. It was built in the 16th century and is eight metres high. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for Ku Len Mountain. There are also two large Cham Pa trees nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, Chhok Ruot, footprints of Preah Bat Choan Tuk, Peung Chhok, Peung Ey So and Peung Ey Sey, can also be seen.
The Linga is along the river of Siem Reap and has a lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.
The Terrace of Sdach Kum Ling has a small brick-built ruined temple in its centre. It was covered by lava for hundreds of years.
- Etienne Aymonier, Le Cambodge. Ernest Leroux, Paris 1904.
- Site des Kulen - UNESCO World Heritage Centre
- Rooney, 2005, pp.264-265
- Higham, Charles (2002). Civilizations of Angkor. University of California Press. ISBN 0-520-23442-1.
- Higham, 2001: pp.54-59
- Friess, Steve (April 29, 2002). "Beyond, Literally, Angkor Wat". Time Magazine. Retrieved October 5, 2008.
- Les Tribus du Cambodge
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Phnom Kulen|
- page on Phnom Kulen from the official website of Kingdom of Cambodia
- Andy Brouwer's blog on the less-visited angkorian temples of Phnom Kulen
- Phnom Kulen video destination guide on YouTube