Amazing Angkor: A Guide to the Buddhist Temples of Siem Reap

May 13, 2018 | Views: 986

Angkor-feat

As the country with the largest majority of Buddhists in the world (97% of Cambodians are active practitioners of Buddhism according to the ‘Global Religious Landscape’ report by the Pew Research Centre), Cambodia is a nation rich with spirituality. Called ‘wat’ in Cambodia, Buddhist temples can be found everywhere and one cannot walk down a street without passing a saffron-robed monk.

Another indication of how deeply spirituality is intertwined with everyday living in Cambodia is that three of the country’s most important annual holidays are big Buddhist festivals:

  • Meak Bochea’ or ‘Magha Puja’, commemorating the auspicious occasion of 1,250 Buddhists coming together spontaneously to venerate the Buddha at Veluvana bamboo grove, is celebrated on the day of the full moon every third lunar month;
  • Visak Bochea Day’, the Cambodian name for ‘Wesak Day’, celebrates the birth, Enlightenment and parinirvana of the Buddha;
  • The 15-day long ‘Pchum Ben’ also known as ‘Ancestors’ Day’ or the ‘Hungry Ghost Festival‘ culminates in a three-day public holiday.
Cambodia 01 - Meak Bochea

Monks in Cambodia celebrating Meak Bochea, one of the biggest holidays of the year. Held on the full moon of the lunar calendar in March, Buddhists celebrate with a candlelight procession. Image credit: Flickr

Cambodia is where the world’s largest religious structure ever built can be found — Angkor Wat, the greatest legacy of the mighty Khmer Empire. Meaning ‘Temple City’, Angkor Wat was originally constructed as a Hindu temple but gradually transformed into a Buddhist one commencing from the late 12th century.

A visit to Angkor Wat is an experience of a time in our history when spirituality influenced every facet of society, from living ethics and the arts to the government and building architecture. Early in 2017, Angkor Wat was voted “the world’s most popular landmark” by travel portal TripAdvisor. This is not the first time either; Angkor Wat was also ranked the “#1 sight in the world” in 2015 by the largest travel guide book publisher in the world, Lonely Planet.

Cambodia 02 - Visak Bochea

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia was named the world’s most popular landmark in 2017 by the popular travel website Tripadvisor

 

VIDEO: The #1 sight in the world, as voted by Lonely Planet

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Cambodia is also home to ancient Angkor, one of the “New Seven Wonders of the World”. In its heyday, it was a megacity the size of present-day Los Angeles and was home to hundreds of thousands (and estimated at up to three-quarters of a million people when the Khmer civilisation was at its peak).

Cambodia Khmer Stele

A rare inscribed sandstone stele with a figure of the Buddha and finely inscribed on all sides. (Khmer, Baphuon Period, 11th Century) 33½ in. (85 cm.) high. Image credit: Christie’s

Influenced by the Mahayana Buddhism of the great Nalanda University in India — regarded as the world’s oldest university — the Khmer kings established a civilisation with a foundation based on Indian Shaivite and Mahayana Buddhist cosmology that produced progressive life and social sciences, cutting-edge building technology and an empire that stood for 600 years.

The province of Siem Reap is where most of Cambodia’s ancient Khmer temples can be found. The wats of ancient Khmer which make this country so popular with tourists, also make it a top choice destination for Buddhist pilgrims to reconnect with their Buddha-nature and to pay homage to the spiritual awakening which inspired some of the world’s greatest monuments ever built by man.

Siem Reap is also the location of Cambodia’s most sacred mountain. Mount Kulen or ‘Phnom Kulen‘ is a distinguished pilgrimage site for local Hindus and Buddhists containing many historical shrines such as Preah Ang Thom, a 16th-century Buddhist monastery which houses Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha statue carved from solid rock. Siem Reap has also been named by TripAdvisor as “The Top Destination in Asia” and placed second in the list of “Traveller’s Choice Top 25 Destinations in the World” for 2017.

Cambodia 03 - Siem Reap TripAdvisor Top Destinations

For 2017, TripAdvisor, the world’s largest travel website, placed Siem Reap as the second most popular destination in Asia.

 

Siem Reap: An Overview

In the north-west of Cambodia, close to the borders of Thailand, Siem Reap Province was the seat of the ancient Khmer Empire at Angkor — the source of Cambodia’s rich spiritual history. The capital city of the province, also called Siem Reap, is the second largest city in Cambodia and the gateway to over a thousand of Angkor’s temple structures.

Attracting millions of visitors in recent years, Siem Reap is a buzzing cosmopolitan city (and the country’s most developed) catering to every kind of traveller — from guesthouses for backpackers to boutique hotels, diverse world-class cuisines, spas, shopping, and a creative cultural scene that includes artisans, contemporary art galleries and museums. It is also home to the famous Phare, Cambodia’s leading circus known as the “Cambodian Cirque du Soleil.” The city’s airport is the second biggest international airport in Cambodia.

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Once a laid-back river town that served as the gateway to Angkor Wat, Siem Reap has since become a destination entirely of its own

Cambodia 05 - Phare Cambodian Circus

The Phare Cambodian Circus is a contemporary circus in the tradition of the Cirque Du Soleil with a cast of talented young Cambodian performers accomplished in acrobatics, contortion, aerial ballet, balancing, tightrope walking, fire dancing, vaulting, juggling, music, dance, drama, mime and comedy.

 

VIDEO: What to do in Siam Reap, Cambodia

Apart from Angkor, Siem Reap has its own allure, with enticing dining options, stylish shops, genial residents and a laid-back river town ambiance.

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VIDEO: Things to Do and What to Eat in Siam Reap, Cambodia

This insightful travel vlog looks at Food and Beverage social enterprises in Siem Reap — restaurants and cafes that serve highly-rated cuisine along with contributing valuable resources and time to the local Cambodian community.

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Angkor Archaeological Park

Declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992, Angkor Archaeological Park is a 400-square kilometre site containing the magnificent remains — nearly 40 temple structures — of the Khmer Empire. Gradually built over half a millennia from the 9th to the 15th centuries, Angkor is now known to be the largest pre-industrial city in the world.

The most iconic monuments at Angkor Park are the Angkor Wat Temple and the Bayon Temple at Angkor Thom with its giant faces of Avalokiteshvara, the Buddha of Compassion, carved in stone.

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Laser surveys conducted in 2012 and 2015 revealed that the temples in Angkor Park were once surrounded by a sprawling urban network spread over an area larger than modern-day Paris. Image credit: © flickr user: chrisjunker, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The early temples of Angkor were built as Hindu temples but became Buddhist in the 12th century when Jayavarman VII converted to Mahayana Buddhism. Following his conversion, this Khmer king commenced on an ambitious era of sophisticated development including the building of the new capital city of Angkor Thom containing the monumental Buddhist temples of Bayon, Ta Prohm and Preah Khan. The rule of Jayavarman VII is regarded as “the golden era” of the Khmer.

Cambodia 07 - Angkor 2 (Map)

With over 150 significant monuments, Angkor was the crown jewel of the Khmer civilisation. Apart from being an outstanding cultural heritage site, it is also an ecological site with reservoirs (the famous barays), ponds and canals as well as forests and rice paddies. Home to around 130,000 local inhabitants scattered over 112 villages, Angkor is a living heritage site. Moreover, it is a place of pilgrimage for Buddhists both from Cambodia and from abroad who come regularly to pray, organise sacred ceremonies and worship their deities in the pagodas inside Angkor Wat, in front of Bayon Temple as well as in Bakong and Lolei. Monks still live in pagodas and monastic life continues as it was in the past. Due to its outstanding universal values, the 401 sq km site has been included on UNESCO´s World Heritage List since 1992. Source: Official Angkor Park website, http://www.angkor.com.kh

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Cambodia 09 - Angkor 3 (Lidar)

In 2007, an international team of researchers using satellite photographs and other modern techniques concluded that “Angkor had been the largest pre-industrial city in the world,” with an elaborate infrastructure system connecting an urban sprawl of at least 1,000 square kilometres to the well-known temples at its core. Angkor is considered to be a “hydraulic city” because it had a complicated water management network, which was used for systematically stabilising, storing, and dispersing water throughout the area. This network is believed to have been used for irrigation in order to offset the unpredictable monsoon season and to also support the increasing population. Although the size of its population remains a topic of research and debate, newly identified agricultural systems in the Angkor area may have supported up to one million people. Source: Wikipedia; Image credit: Damian Evans/Cambodian Archaeological Lidar Initiative

After the Mahayana Buddhist rule under Jayavarman VII and his son Indravarman II, the Khmer Empire reverted to Hinduism for a short period but eventually returned to becoming a Buddhist kingdom until its fall to the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya. Many of the remaining temples in the Angkor Archeological Park, originally built as palatial dwellings for the gods, continue to be holy pilgrimage sites for Cambodians and foreign visitors, including monks.

The Angkor Archaeological Park registered two million tourists last year and entry into the park is via a ticketing system. Visitor details along with tips for pilgrims to Angkor Park and the temples in Siem Reap are listed in the section below.

 

VIDEO: A clip on Angkor Wat from the documentary ‘Prajna Earth’, the second part of The Journey Into Buddhism ‘Yatra Trilogy’ series.

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Angkor Wat

The only man-made building to have a place on a country’s national flag, Angkor Wat is the pride of Cambodia. Surrounded by moats and built in the “temple-mountain” style, Angkor Wat is a highly symbolic mountain-like building topped by five towers. Called ‘gopuras’, the five towers represent the five peaks of the mythical Mount Meru.

“Grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome” was the judgment of young French explorer Henri Mouhot when he first stumbled across Angkor Wat in 1858. He described the complex as “a rival [to the temple] of Solomon, erected by some ancient Michelangelo”.

Cambodia 10 - Angkor Wat 1 (Henri Mouhot)

In 1858, Henri Mouhot, a French naturalist and explorer, travelled to Indochina to conduct a series of botanical expeditions. An English version of his travel journal was published in London in 1864. In it, he introduced the Temple of Angkor to the western world, and this publication, with his exquisitely detailed engravings, helped to popularise the now famous complex of ruined temples. Image credit: A drawing of Angkor Wat by Henri Mouhot from 1864

This temple, originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, was built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century and remains the largest religious complex in the world. Unrivalled in scale and grandeur, the temple’s five gopuras rise above a 400-acre precinct — four times larger than Vatican City. The period when Angkor Wat was built also marks the beginning of the golden age of the Khmer Empire. Later in the century, Angkor Wat was converted into a Buddhist temple by King Suryavarman II’s successor, Jayavarman VII.

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A statue of Buddha Shakyamuni at the entrance to the inner sanctuary of the central tower of Angkor Wat

Although Angkor Wat’s precious statues and art were targeted for destruction by the Khmer Rouge during their violent reign in the late 70s, and were looted and sold on the black market in the following decades, there still remains many archeological treasures to be viewed and admired. Glorious to behold even with their heads removed, Buddha statues sit in meditation along the corridors of Angkor Wat as a silent reminder of both Cambodia’s past glory and its violent history.

Constructed in the form of a mandala and positioned to align with astrological events, Angkor Wat has long corridors and open galleries with 1,700 devatas (deities) and 1,200 square metres of Hindu epics carved into the bas-reliefs decorating the temple’s walls. The most renowned is the creation epic ‘Churning the Ocean of Milk’ depicting the beginning of time and the creation of the universe in an equally epic 49-metre-long wall carving — Vishnu commanding a giant naga to be pulled back and forth by 108 devas (gods) and asuras (demons), churning the primordial ocean for a thousand years until ‘amrita‘, the nectar of life develops. It is a tale that represents the divine paradox where the forces of dark and light work relentlessly together for one’s spiritual awakening.

Country: Cambodia Site: Angkor Wat Caption: Churning of the Sea of Milk bas relief, long view Image Date: c1996 Photographer: John Stubbs/WMF Provenance: Site Visit Original: from slide collection

View of the 49-metre wall with its intricately sculpted bas-relief ‘Churning the Ocean of Milk’ at Angkor Wat.

The place of the Khmer kings in Angkor Wat has long passed down the corridor of time but for the Buddha, it is still ever present. Like most of the temples in Angkor Park, Angkor Wat houses many active Buddhist altars and shrines complete with larger-than-life Buddha statues carved from stone which are cared for by local monks from nearby temples and the laity with daily venerations and offerings of candles, joss-sticks (incense sticks), flowers and fruit. One of the most popular sites in Angkor Wat, with many shrines for veneration, is ‘Preah Poan’ — the Hall of a Thousand Buddhas.

One of the best times of the year to visit Angkor Wat is during any one of the three big Buddhist holidays. On Magha Puja and Wesak Day, Angkor Wat becomes a sea of saffron as thousands of monks converge on the temple grounds to offer devotional chanting and recitations, pray and meditate. During the 15-day-long Cambodian Ancestor’s Day Festival called ‘Pchum Ben’, the altars and shrines in Angkor Wat are a venue of feasts, as long lines of food, cakes and fruits are laid out in front of Buddha statues together with incense, flowers and other offerings, to appease and relieve the sufferings of the deceased in the afterlife.

Cambodia 13 - Angkor Wat 4 (Visak Bochea)

Monks from all over the country and region gather for the annual Visak Bochea or Wesak Day festival

 

Angkor Thom

Sited after Angkor Wat in the archaeological park is Angkor Thom — the last capital of the ancient Khmer — built progressively over a few centuries by successive kings but mostly (including the iconic Bayon Temple) by the Buddhist King Jayavarman VII. Unlike Angkor Wat which was built as a temple, Angkor Thom was a whole city comprising of temples, palaces and other buildings for civic use including hospitals. Meaning “Great City”, the magnificence of Angkor Thom is in the sum of its parts, right from the entry bridge which is flanked by 54 devas and asuras on each side.

While wooden palatial and civic buildings only have their foundations remaining today, the buildings that are still standing after centuries are the ones worthy enough to have been constructed from stone — the temples built to house the divine.

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Angkor Thom was a fortified city enclosing temples, monasteries, residences of palace officials and the military, as well as buildings for administering the kingdom

 

The Bayon

Set in the centre of the ten square kilometre city of Angkor Thom, all the buildings in this last (and most impressive) capital of the Khmer Empire radiate outwards from the iconic Bayon Temple. Dedicated to the Buddha of Compassion, Bayon has 37 peaks containing more than two hundred stone faces of Avalokiteshvara. Each larger-than-life face is ten feet in height.

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The magnificient Bayon Temple is located at the centre of Angkor Thom

Much smaller in size than Angkor Wat but no less impressive, Bayon is composed of three enclosures with tightly spaced galleries. The main gallery is on an upper terrace and, similar to Angkor Wat, all of Bayon’s gallery walls are filled with superbly carved bas-reliefs.

Uniquely, the bas-reliefs found in Bayon and many of the temples of Angkor Thom also feature depictions of important events and everyday living in this great ancient city. These ‘snapshots’ carved into the stone walls of the outer enclosure are an invaluable window looking back hundreds of years, documenting the people of the ancient Khmer civilisation and their lives.

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The well-preserved bas reliefs of Bayon Temple depict scenes of major events and Khmer life from the period between the 12th and 14th centuries

Although built as a Buddhist temple, the Bayon, like most ancient temples in Southeast Asia, contains tributes to Hindu cosmology — the inner enclosure has walls with reliefs of scenes from the popular Ramayana and Mahabharata epics.

The Bayon’s main gallery on the top level is where the famous “face towers” of the temple can be found. At the centre of this gallery is the central gopura with a sanctuary that, during the time of the Khmer, was the original location of the famous Buddha statue of Bayon — a 3.6 metre tall Buddha in meditation pose, sheltered from the elements by the flared hood of the serpent king Mucalinda.

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The famous “face towers” of Bayon

This statue was thought to be lost but then was found in 1933 at the bottom of a well. The magnificent 12th century Buddha has since been restored and is now on display in its own pavilion outside the Bayon. In the sanctuary today, sits a newer statue of Buddha Shakyamuni.

Cambodia 19 - Bayon 4 (Original Bayon Buddha)

The famous Bayon Buddha sits in meditative equipoise on the trunk of a naga coiled three times to serve as a throne, and whose seven heads spread into a hood to shelter the Enlightened One. This statue was originally located in the central sanctuary of the Bayon temple but is now housed at Vihear Prampil Loveng (Wat Prampei Loveng)

Besides the central gopura, the inner galleries and smaller towers of the Bayon also have sanctuaries and chapels. Some still house the original Buddha statues as centrepieces while others feature more recent replicas. All of these are active shrines of worship and, from time to time, serve as temporary chapels complete with a variety of Buddha statues and altars for making devotions and offerings.

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The many shrines in Bayon Temple make these ancient ruins an active site for Buddhist devotion. Shrines like this can also be found in many other temples in Angkor Park

 

Baphuon Temple

Older than Angkor Wat, Baphuon is said to have been one of the most spectacular of Angkor’s temples during its heyday. Located north-west of Bayon, it was also constructed as a pyramidal representation of the mythical Mount Meru.

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The Baphuon, one of the largest and oldest temples at Angkor Park, lay in hundreds of thousands of pieces for decades, interrupted by the civil war. Restoration works commenced in 1995 and the temple was reopened to the public in 2011.

The temple of Baphuon was the centre of the old Khmer capital that existed before the construction of Angkor Thom. When first built, Baphuon was the state temple of King Udayadityavarman II and was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

Later in the 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple and a massive 9-metre-tall by 70-metre-long reclining Buddha was built into the wall on the west side.

Cambodia 20 - Baphuon 20 (Reclining Buddha)

When the Baphuon was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 15th century, a massive 70-metre-long reclining Buddha was built into the side of the west wall

When it was found, much of the temple had collapsed and restoration efforts were challenging, particularly after the Khmer Rouge came to power in the 70s and all archaeological records marking the positions of the stones were lost. Nicknamed “the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle”, a team of archaeologists started in 1995 to reassemble the temple from 300,000 stones! After 16 years, the Baphuon Temple was fully restored and reopened its doors to the public in 2011.

 

Terrace of the Elephants

Named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face, the Terrace of the Elephants was used as a royal viewing gallery for Jayavarman VII — a platform for the Khmer king to view his victorious returning army — and for public ceremonies.

Attached to the Phimeanakas Palace, it also served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall. It is a 350-metre-long stage famous for its life-size reliefs of garudas and lions, and facing either end are marching elephants complete with mahouts.

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During the heyday of the Khmer Empire, the Terrace of the Elephants was the stage for royal processions and ceremonies

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Preah Palilay

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The Buddha statue in the pavilion at the entrance of Preah Palilay was missing its head until the early 1930s when it was found entangled in the roots of a tree

Set in a forested location a short walk from the Terrace of the Elephants and the Phimeanakas Palace is Preah Palilay, a small Buddhist temple. According to Khmer folklore, Preah Palilay takes its name after the Parileyyaka Forest that features in the stories of the Buddha.

Surrounded by towering trees, this temple is highly regarded for having many Buddhist carvings largely intact and in better condition than those vandalised and destroyed in other Angkor temples, first by the Hindu Khmer revival under Jayavarman VIII then by the Khmer Rouge.

Under a pavilion at the front of the temple grounds is a large Buddha statue that was missing its head until it was found entwined in the roots of a tree in the early 1930s. Sitting serenely on a lotus, Buddha Shakyamuni, in the iconic “calling the earth to witness” mudra, greets visitors at the start of a cross-shaped terrace with seven-headed naga balustrades leading to the main entrance of the temple.

 

VIDEO: Cambodia Preah Palilay

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At the doorways of the gopura of Preah Palilay are exquisite carvings with scenes from the life of the Buddha. One scene with elephants, monkeys and peacocks is believed to be from “The offerings of the animals to the Buddha in the forest of Parileyyaka”. Other scenes include the offering of rice-milk by Sujata and the subjugation of the elephant Nalagiri. These scenes also feature exquisite carvings depicting a reclining, seated and standing Buddha in each.

Close to the site is a Buddhist monastery, and the regular presence of monks and nuns at the temple provide Preah Palilay with a living spiritual energy. The temple also has on its grounds the remains of two guardians called dvarapalas and a lion.

 

Tep Pranam

Consisting of little more than an elevated cross-shaped terrace, Tep Pranam was once the base of a pagoda. Although it is listed as one of the least impressive structures in the Angkor Archeological Park, Tep Pranam is undoubtedly an important temple to visit for Buddhist pilgrims.

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To this day, the Buddhist shrines at Tep Pranam carry great religious significance for many Cambodians who come here to pray and make offerings

Tep Pranam means “the adoring God” and this temple is home to two enormous 16th century Buddha statues which have been restored in cement from their original sandstone blocks. The first, towering at 6 metres in height, is Buddha Shakyamuni seated on a lotus in the “calling the earth to witness” mudra. The other has the Buddha standing at 4 metres tall in the “absence of fear” mudra with both palms facing outwards. Each magnificent stone Buddha statue is under a gazebo with shrines for devotions and many Cambodians visit to make prayers and offerings.

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A Buddha statue sitting in the lotus position in Tep Pranam. The 6-metre-high statue dates back to the 16th century, but was restored in 1950

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The Standing Buddha at Tep Pranam has been reconstructed with a mixture of concrete and its original sandstone pieces. Standing at over 4 metres in height, the Buddha’s hands are in the “absence of fear” mudra. Right image credit: National Museum of Cambodia. Left image credit: travelvideophoto.com

A stele found near Tep Pranam has inscriptions on its four sides telling of an ancient Buddhist monastery or “asrama” founded by King Yasovarman at the end of the 9th century. The inscriptions also describe the various rules of asrama. It is quite common to find monks and nuns living in retreat in wooden huts on the wooded fringes of Tep Pranam.

 

Preah Khan

One of the largest temple complexes in Angkor, Preah Khan was built by Jayavarman VII in the baroque Bayon style with many finely carved bas-reliefs. More than just a temple, Preah Khan was founded as a Buddhist university housing more than a thousand teachers, monks and nuns along with royal residences. The monastic complex is older than Angkor Thom and it is believed that this may have been a miniature city that served as a temporary capital while Angkor Thom was being constructed.

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Cambodia 29 - Preah Khan 2

Built as a monastery for Buddhist learning, Preah Khan is not to be missed for anyone making a pilgrimage to Angkor

A large stone stele at Preah Khan provides detailed historical information of its founding and role as a centre for Mahayana Buddhist worship and learning. The inscriptions on the Preah Khan Foundation Stele start with invocations to the Three Jewels, Lokeshvara (Avalokiteshvara) and Prajnaparamita. The stele also describes Preah Khan to be a dedication to the king’s father, Dharanindravarman, who is represented by a statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara constructed in his likeness at the temple’s central sanctuary.

Cambodia 30 - Preah Khan 3 (Stele)

Extracted from ‘The Stele Inscription of Preah Khan, Angkor Text with Translation and Commentary’ by Thomas S. Maxwell, University of Bonn

Cambodia 31 - Preah Khan 4 (Bas Relief)

Many of the magnificent bas-reliefs on the walls of Preah Khan are very well preserved

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In the central shrine of Preah Khan is a stupa where visitors and pilgrims can make offerings and perform devotions

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A replica of the kneeling Prajnaparamita statue from Preah Khan is on display at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh

At its height, Preah Khan once had shrines devoted to 430 secondary deities, but nearly all of the Buddha statues and images were either completely destroyed or defaced by the Hindu revivalist, Jayavarman VIII, including the Avalokiteshvara statue in the central sanctuary. In its place today is a stone stupa that is also the main shrine for devotions at Preah Khan.

One of the finest Khmer statues found at Angkor Park was from Preah Khan — a kneeling Prajnaparamita, the Bodhisattva who represents the “perfection of wisdom”. The original is presently at the Musée Guimet in Paris and a replica is on display at Cambodia’s National Museum in Phnom Penh.

 

Ta Prohm

Most famously known as the “Tomb Raider Temple,” Ta Prohm provided the location in the blockbuster movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider starring Angelina Jolie. Unlike most Angkor temples which have had their sites cleared and structures restored, Ta Prohm has been preserved almost exactly as it was found — a temple reclaimed by nature complete with tentacled roots and large trees growing out of the ruins. It is this fantasy-like enchanted forest atmosphere that makes Ta Prohm one of the most popular temples at Angkor.

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Ta Prohm achieved international fame for being the location set for the action-adventure movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider with Angelina Jolie as the main star

Originally known as ‘Rajavihara‘ (meaning “Monastery of the King”), Ta Prohm was a Mahayana Buddhist temple built in the 12th century by Jayavarman VII who dedicated it to his mother.

Shrines at Ta Prohm

As with Preah Khan which had the likeness of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara dedicated to his father, the great Buddhist Khmer King dedicated Ta Prohm to his mother in the form of the Bodhisattva Prajnaparamita.

The temple was an important Buddhist monastery and university, and was home to over 10,000 people including thousands of monks and nuns. It also contained a stele which provided detailed records of its construction, purpose and maintenance.

400 years after European explorers rediscovered Ta Prohm, the temple’s appearance is not so different from when it was found. It was decided that Ta Prohm should remain exactly as it was to show the conquering power of nature over man.

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Inside Ta Prohm’s dark maze-like corridors and galleries, pilgrims will find some of the most magical-looking Buddhist shrines in Angkor.

Many Buddhist scenes can also be found here including a bas-relief illustrating the “Great Departure” of Siddhartha from his father’s palace and a scene from the Jataka Tale of Prince Vessantara who, after giving away his two children as servants, poured water into the hands of the Brahmin Jujuka as a symbolic act of renunciation in order to practise the virtue of charity.

Other reliefs are of devatas, meditating monks and ascetics, and dvarapalas (temple guardians).

Cambodia 38 - Ta Phrom 4 (Bas Relief)

Ta Prohm was built by King Jayavarman VII in honour of his mother, whose image was used for the main statue of the temple, Prajnaparamita, a symbol of wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism. Image credit: passenger6a.com

 

VIDEO: Journey Inside the Ghostly Temple of Trees

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Neak Pean and Krol Ko

100 metres from each other, Neak Pean and Krol Ko are two temples in Angkor with symbolic representations of Buddhist cosmology in accordance with Mahayana tradition. Meaning ‘twin nagas’ or ‘entwined nagas’ — ‘neak’ being the Khmer word for naga — Neak Pean is a small but astounding temple. It is set on an artificial island built on a small lake with a central gopura encircled by a pair of nagas, claimed to be Nanda and Upananda of Lake Anavatapta. According to Buddhist cosmology, Anavatapta is a mythical lake at the centre of the world in the Himalayas with waters that can cure illnesses and remove suffering.

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Neak Pean is a small temple built on a man-made island on a lake with shrines that reflect Buddhist cosmology

Neak Pean was built by Jayavarman VII as a hospital and place of healing dedicated to the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Once, four sculptures stood on the bed of the lake but the only one remaining today is that of ‘Balaha’, Avalokiteshvara emanating in the form of a horse. This sculpture of a flying horse rising from the water with a group of men holding onto its tail recounts the tale of Balaha rescuing merchants at sea from an ogress.

Out of four statues that previously arose from the lake, the last remaining is that of Balaha, an emanation of Avalokiteshvara in the form of a horse

From the shores of the lake, visitors get to Neak Pean either via a long wooden walkway or by boat. The temple structure itself contains pools of water with four small chapels at the corners. Inside are carved stone heads — a king, lion, horse and elephant respectively — that serve as waterspouts. The water is channeled from the central pool to smaller basins in each chapel. At present, all the chapels in Neak Pean are active shrines housing small stone Buddhas for devotions, and devotees also come here to collect the healing waters.

Cambodia 41 - Neak Pean 3 (Shrine)

Neak Pean, originally built as a centre of healing, continues to attract visitors and pilgrims from all over Cambodia. The waters from the shrines are also sought after as they are believed to contain healing properties.

Krol Ko, a small temple structure a short distance from Neak Pean is believed to be the chapel for the hospital. On its grounds are pediments with intricate reliefs of both Hindu and Buddhist origins — among the most famous is the restored pediment with Avalokiteshvara.

Cambodia 42 - Krol Ko

Krol Ko means ‘Shed of the Oxen’ in Khmer. The temple is located northwest of Neak Pean, 100 metres from the road. The well-preserved stone carvings at Krol Ko feature scenes with Avalokiteshvara and make this small temple worth visiting.

 

Ta Som

Relatively smaller than most of the temples in Angkor, Ta Som is a compact temple consisting of a single shrine enclosed by walls and entrance gopuras that have well-preserved towers. Although clearly built as a Buddhist temple in the Bayon style, with each tower featuring the four faces of Avalokiteshvara, little is known about the temple’s history and purpose.

Ta Som was built by King Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th century, dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman II.

Like its more famous counterpart Ta Prohm, Ta Som is a temple that has been reclaimed by nature. It is most famous for its east entrance which has a gopura completely enveloped by a giant Bodhi tree. Its doorway, which appears as an opening through the tree’s long flowing roots, is also one of the most photographed sites in Angkor.

Another must-see at Ta Som is a large lintel with exquisite reliefs depicting Avalokiteshvara surrounded by a crowd offering devotions. The temple is also rich in architectural detail with finely carved stone sculptures of nagas and garudas.

For a long time, Ta Som remained in a state of advanced ruin but it has since been recently restored.

 

VIDEO: Ta Som Temple

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Cambodia-V7a-TaSom.mp4

 

Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang

The next in the long list of temples built by Jayavarman VII is Banteay Kdei, a Bayon-style monastery constructed between the 12th and 13th centuries. Often overlooked by tourists, Banteay Kdei, which means “A Citadel of Chambers”, has gopuras crowned with towers featuring giant carvings of Avalokiteshvara’s face on all four sides.

Cambodia 44 - Banteay Kdei 1

Banteay Kdei is the Khmer name meaning “A Citadel of Chambers” or “Citadel of Monks’ Cells”

It is widely believed that this monastic complex was dedicated to the prolific Khmer King’s Buddhist teacher. Built as a residence for monks, Banteay Kdei is filled with Buddhist-themed bas-reliefs and stone carvings. While much of it has been defaced, there are still many in relatively good condition including a giant Buddha Shakyamuni statue in meditation position at the central shrine. Another well-preserved Buddha image can be found at the entrance to the moat.

Up until the 1960s, monks were still living at Banteay Kdei. In the late 90s, archaeologists unearthed a large cache of nearly 300 Buddhist statues and artefacts — these have since been taken off-site for study and archival purposes.

Built as a monastery, Banteay Kdei was occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries until the 1960s

Banteay Kdei is also recommended as an alternative site to watch the sun rise over Angkor, away from the hordes of visitors at Angkor Wat especially during peak season. It offers a quiet but no less magical view of the sun rising and reflecting off the mirror-like surface of Srah Srang.

Located by the Banteay Kdei Temple, Srah Srang, the “Royal Bathing Pool” or “Pool of Ablutions” was built by an earlier king and later renovated by Jayavarman VII. This massive 20,000 square feet pond was used only by the king and members of the royal family. The sides of the pool are decorated with delicate carvings and stone statues of lions and nagas. A wooden temple once stood on a small man-made island at the centre of the pond; however, all that remains today is its stone base.

The long promenades lined with naga balustrades are a quieter but no less magnificent alternative to Angkor Wat for watching the sunrise

 

Prasat Bat Chum

Less popular with the average tourist, Prasat Bat Chum, a small temple consisting of three gopuras at the top of a terraced hill, will hold interest for the Buddhist pilgrim. Built in the 10th century by the predecessor of King Jayavarman VII at a time when the Khmer Empire was still Hindu, it is the first Buddhist temple ever built in the Angkor region.

Prasat Bat Chum is considered to be the first Buddhist sanctuary in Angkor. Its three towers were dedicated to the Mahayana Buddhist trinity of Buddha Shakyamuni (central gopura), Avalokiteshvara (southern gopura) and Prajnaparamita (northern gopura)

There are Buddhist inscriptions on the doorjambs of Prasat Bat Chum, crediting the ‘architect’ or official in-charge of the construction of the temple. This individual has been identified as the same person also responsible for building Srah Srang. Records also show that there were once houses and a Buddhist monastery located near the temple but these structures were made of wood and are now long gone.

During the excavations in the 1950s, flagstones showing yantras were found. These were later reconstituted to match the Buddhist divinities mentioned in the doorjamb inscriptions.

 

Other Temples to Visit in Angkor Park

Koh Ker, Kbal Spean, Phnom Bakheng, Phimeanakas, Banteay Srei and Prasat Phnom Kron are among the more significant temples to visit, particularly for their Hindu Khmer art and architecture. The Roluos group of temples is a remote collection of structures and another of the Khmer Empire’s early capitals before Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom were built. All the temples in the Roluos group were built for Hindu devotions, while two modern pagodas can be found at Prasat Bakong and Prasat Lolei. Both are very popular places of worship for the local Khmer and Cambodian population.

Cambodia 49 - Roluos 1

The Roluos group, built in the late 9th century, is the oldest site in Angkor Park that is open to visitors

The carvings on the temples of the Roluos group is, according to some prominent art historians, “the most beautiful of all Khmer art”

 

Getting to Angkor Park

 

VIDEO: Before You Visit Angkor Wat, Here’s What You Need to Know

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Cambodia-V8a -Before-Visit.mp4

 

Opening Hours

Angkor Park is managed by the ‘Authority for the Protection and Safeguarding of Angkor and the Region of Angkor’ (APSARA Authority). Its operating hours are from 7.30 am to 5.50 pm, except the following temples which open earlier and close later for sunrise and sunset views:

  • Angkor Wat and Srah Srang: Open from 5.00 am to 5.30 pm
  • Phnom Bakheng and Pre Rup: Open from 5.00 am to 7.00 pm

 

Getting In: The Angkor Pass

To gain entry into Angkor Park, an entrance ticket — called an ‘Angkor Pass’ — must be purchased beforehand. There are three types of passes with prices as follows:

  • 1-Day Angkor Pass: USD $37
  • 3-Day Angkor Pass: USD $62 (any three days within seven days from purchase date)
  • 7-Day Angkor Pass: USD $72 (any seven days within a calendar month from purchase date)
Cambodia 53 - Angkor Pass

Entry into Angkor Park is with an Angkor Pass

Angkor Passes are only issued at the official ticket office (open from 5.00 am to 5.30 pm daily), operated by Angkor Enterprise for APSARA Authority. It is located on the corner of Street 60 and Apsara Road, the road to the West Gate entrance, which is the entry gate closest to Angkor Wat. Every private car rental or tuk-tuk driver knows where it is.

Cambodia 51 - Angkor Enterprise 1

Cambodia 52 - Angkor Enterprise 2 (Ticket Counters)

Angkor Enterprise Ticket Office

The Angkor Pass requires a photograph of the visitor, which is taken at the ticket counter during the time of purchase. Every visitor is required to be present in person for the pass to be issued.

There are strict dress codes which apply to all visitors, men and women alike, forbidding exposure of knees and shoulders and revealing clothing. If you are not dressed appropriately, you will not be issued a pass.

All Angkor Passes are non-transferable and fines are severe, from USD $100 up to $300 if you lose your pass while in the park. So do remember to keep your passes safely on your person at all times!

With every Angkor Pass purchased, USD $2 goes to the Kantha Bopha Children’s Hospital Fund — a non-profit hospital which has treated 18 million children since 1992. Kantha Bopha operates solely through donations and gives treatments to Cambodian children for free.

Cambodia 52 - Angkor Entrance Tickets Regulations

Angkor Entrance Tickets Regulations. Click to enlarge.

Visitors who meet the following conditions are exempt from having to purchase a pass to enter the park:

  • All Cambodian nationals
  • Foreigners of Cambodian birth or whose parents are Cambodian (either father or mother). A ‘K’ type Cambodian visa is required.
  • Foreigners who have been granted Cambodian citizenship. A national identity card is required.
  • Children aged 12 and below. Proof of age with either passport or national identity card is required.

Angkor Passes can only be purchased with cash. The ticket office does not accept credit or debit cards. ATMs are available at the office premises but it is recommended that you prepare all the necessary cash beforehand because queues for the ATM can be very long (and slow!) during peak hours, especially in the morning with crowds of visitors rushing to get in for the sunrise.

For the latest information, visit the APSARA official website: angkor.com.kh

TIP: Avoid morning crowds and purchase your passes after 5.00 pm on the day prior to your visit, especially if you are only getting a one-day pass. Tickets sold after this time are valid for the following day, plus you will be able to enter the park on the evening of the purchase to catch an extra view of the sunset!

 

Getting Around

 

Tuk Tuks

Also called ‘remorks‘ or ‘remorques‘, as they were known by the French, tuk tuks are said to be the best way to get around Angkor Park. These open-sided two-wheeler carriages pulled by motorcycles seat two people comfortably and are a breezy enjoyable ride. They are cheaper than hiring a car and driver. Plus, they allow you to get closer to where you want to go, which can be a temple, a restaurant or even an elephant!

Tuk tuk rates generally start from USD $8 for a standard 8-hour day to USD $20 for the entire day (before sunrise till after sunset). Hotels in Siem Reap are usually happy to make tuk tuk bookings for you but the rates may be higher than if you were to organise it on your own. Learn more about getting around by tuk tuk at http://www.movetocambodia.com/living-in-cambodia/transportation/getting-around-by-tuk-tuk/

Cambodia 54 - Tuk Tuk

Tuk tuks are the most popular mode for getting to and around Angkor Park

 

Hired Car and Driver

If you are travelling in a group or with elderly companions, or if you just like the comfort, then an air-conditioned car or mini-van is easy to hire in Siem Reap. In particular, when it comes to visiting temples outside Angkor Park such as Beng Mealea or Phnom Kulen, hiring a car and driver is highly recommended as the journey to these remote locations can take several hours on bumpy roads.

Most hotels will be able to arrange a hire car and driver which generally starts from USD $30 to $40 a day and more for bigger cars like mini vans or luxury models.

 

Motorcycle Taxis

If you’re travelling alone and are the adventurous sort, then hiring a motorcycle taxi — called ‘motodup’ in Cambodian or ‘moto’ for short — is just the thing for you. Motos are zippy rides and can go off road which means you’ll be able to see places and sights most travellers in tuk tuks and cars may not be able to. The downside is that it’s not as comfortable especially during the rainy season — be sure to have a poncho with you if you choose to get around by moto.

Motodups are usually hired for an entire day and cost only USD $8 from before sunrise till after sunset.

 

Bicycles

For the super adventurous with lots of time to explore the park at leisure, bicycles can be a really enjoyable mode of getting around Angkor. Bicycle hires start from as little as US $2 to $3 a day for a basic bicycle and between USD $6 to $7 for a mountain bike.

REMINDER: If you are planning on cycling in Siem Reap and Angkor, make sure you have travel insurance and take all necessary safety precautions — wear a helmet, get a bike light, etc. — because roads in Siem Reap and to Angkor are heavily trafficked and road accidents are common.

 

Getting a Guide

Because Angkor is an enormous park with many temple sites, it can be an overwhelming experience especially for first-time visitors. Therefore, hiring a local guide to help you plan which temples to visit, to help you get around and to learn more about the temples is an option worth considering.

Official Angkor guides, trained and licensed by the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism can be hired through your hotel or travel company.

Cambodia 55 - Official Angkor Guide

Hiring a trained guide is highly recommended for first-time visitors to Angkor Park

The price for hiring a guide can range from USD $25 to $40 a day for just the guide and up to USD $70 for a package which includes a guide, an air-conditioned vehicle with driver and bottled mineral water.

RECOMMENDATION: For visitors planning on making a proper Buddhist pilgrimage, allocate a minimum of three days (if you can) at Angkor Park. For the first day, hire a guide to help you get oriented with the many temples in the park and identify the ones you want to spend time in prayer at. Then return on your own the following two days to visit or revisit those temples.

 

Angkor Park Official Code of Conduct

Besides Angkor Park’s archeological and historical value as a “living heritage”, this UNESCO World Heritage Zone is still home to over 130,000 people living in 112 villages throughout the region. Many of the park’s temples are still daily places of worship for Angkor residents and visiting Buddhist pilgrims.

The Angkor Code of Conduct released by APSARA Authority ensures that visitors to the park maintain appropriate decorum and modesty in dressing that will not offend the religious and cultural values of the place and its people.

 

DON’TS:

  • Don’t dress inappropriately, meaning don’t wear attire that shows too much leg, shoulder or back. When visiting the park, do not wear shorts, short skirts (skirt-lines above the knee) and tops that are revealing. This includes shoe-string straps, halter-neck tops, bikinis for women, and going shirtless for men.
  • Don’t touch the monuments or handle statues or carvings. These are centuries-old artefacts and can be easily damaged.
  • Don’t talk or laugh loudly because it is not in the local culture to do so. Cambodians speak with soft tones and it is considered disrespectful to have loud conversations or raised voices.
  • Don’t violate Angkor Park rules at all times. For visitor safety as well as to show respect to the site, do not enter restricted areas, climb the outside of temples or over stones.
  • Don’t smoke or litter. Smoking is banned throughout Angkor Park and strict smoking and littering penalties are imposed to ensure the park’s environment is clean and safe for all visitors.
  • Don’t buy items being sold by children or give them money. Impoverished families often send their children to the park to sell a variety of goods from souvenir trinkets to devotional items. The Cambodian authorities wish to discourage this practice so that the children will remain in school.
  • Don’t act disrespectfully to monks. Everywhere in Cambodia and especially so in Angkor, monks are often present. Monks observe very strict rules of etiquette and visitors are reminded to be respectful when they are present — do not get close to or touch them and especially, do not take photographs either of or with them without first asking their permission.

 

DOs:

  • Wear modest clothing that is not revealing — trousers or skirts should not go higher than the knee and tops should not be sleeveless. For comfort and protection from the sun, opt for light-weight clothes that are loose and comfortable — cotton or linen is ideal. Put on comfortable shoes for walking and stay away from heels. You might also want to bring these items with you – a hat, sunglasses, sunblock, mosquito repellent, a towel and/or wet wipes.
  • Be mindful not to touch, hold or knock on walls, stones, sculptures and carvings.
  • Keep your voice down and speak with soft tones.
  • Observe Angkor Park rules at all times. Angkor is one of the world’s most important historical complexes and, while it is important to keep it open for the public to learn from, it is equally as important that visitors take heed of the rules so these beautiful structures can be preserved for posterity.
  • Carry your disposables with you until you find a rubbish bin.
  • Support impoverished families and children by contributing to the various groups and organisations working to improve the lives of these people.
  • Revere the Sangha. Bowing to monks is considered very respectful. And it is recommended to seek permission before approaching or speaking with them.

The Angkor Visitor Code of Conduct issued by APSARA Authority. Click to enlarge.

 

VIDEO: Angkor Visitor Code of Conduct

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Cambodia-V9a-Visitor-Code.mp4

 

VIDEO: Sampeah Etiquette in Khmer

Greetings are important in Cambodia. The style of greeting called “Sampeah” in Khmer language is performed by placing both palms together in the manner of praying, accompanied by a slight bow of the head. It is similar to the Thai ‘wai’.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Cambodia-V10a-Sampeah.mp4

 

When to Visit

The peak season to visit Angkor Park is from November till February when the weather is cool and windy, almost Mediterranean-like. This time of the year is known as the Cambodian ‘winter’ but bear in mind that you’ll be competing with hordes of other visitors to view the sights. Prices for goods and services like tuk tuks are also higher, driven by demand.

March and April, although dry, are the hottest months.

The low season coincides with the monsoon season, which runs from May until September. However, as rainfall is intermittent with heavy downpours lasting around two hours at most, many travel sites recommend this period as the best time to visit Angkor Park, as the jungles are lusher and landscapes more verdant. It is also far less crowded and pilgrims will have fewer tourists to contend with in the temples and around the shrines. Prices are also lower with hotels and travel companies offering discounts or value packages during the rainy season.

From October onwards, Angkor (and Siem Reap in general) starts to get crowded again.

If you don’t mind a bit of rain, the monsoon season allows visitors to explore Angkor Park without the peak season crowds

 

Useful Links

 

Beng Mealea

Located a significant distance away from the Angkor Archeological Park, Beng Mealea is one of the oldest temples, built in the classical Khmer style identical to Angkor Wat. It is in a state of advanced ruin and, like Ta Prohm, is covered in vegetation.

Cambodia 59 - Beng Mealea 1

Travel guide Lonely Planet lists Beng Mealea as a ‘top choice Buddhist temple’ and describes it as “the ultimate Indiana Jones experience”.

Meaning “Lotus Pond”, Beng Mealea is surrounded by mystery and the purpose of the temple is still unknown. Many sections of the temple have collapsed into massive heaps of sandstone rubble but, unlike the temples at Angkor Park, visitors are allowed to climb them. Official temple guides are present in most parts of the temple and they also act as safety guides, advising visitors where it is safe for climbing and where it’s not. In recent times, a raised walkway was built to allow less-adventurous tourists to navigate through the various sections of the temple.

Cambodia 60 - Beng Mealea 2

Until today, the history of Beng Mealea temple is still unknown

The temple’s ruined condition was further damaged by looters over several decades towards the end of the last century. The looters used dynamite to access high value antiquities — fine stone sculptures and relief carvings — from amongst the twisting tree roots and piles of stones. More recently, a well-preserved naga balustrade was found buried deep underground.

At present, Beng Mealea is an active archeological site and carvings showing legends of Vishnu, Shiva and the Buddha have been discovered. Although there are no active shrines, Beng Mealea remains a popular local pilgrimage site for both the monastic community and laity.

 

Getting to Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea is an adventure entirely on its own as is the 80 kilometre journey to get there from Siem Reap (1.5 to 2 hours by road). It is advised that visitors set aside at least half a day to visit this temple. Entry into Beng Mealea is not included in the Angkor Pass and an admission fee of USD $5 is payable at the ticket office by the main entrance.

Although it is possible to get to the temple by tuk tuk, be warned that the journey there is via bumpy (and dusty) backroads. The best way for pilgrims and tourists to get to Beng Mealea is to hire a car and a driver. A trip to Beng Mealea combines well with a visit to either Phnom Kulen or Banteay Srei.

RECOMMENDATION: Hire a car and a driver for the day and visit Beng Mealea as well as Phnom Kulen. Departing by 6.30 am from Siem Reap for Beng Mealea will allow you more than sufficient time for a thorough visit, and you can arrive at the gates of Phnom Kulen in time to enter. The road up to Phnom Kulen operates on a contra-flow — one-way traffic up the mountain is only until noon, then the traffic flow switches to downhill only from 1.00 pm until the road closes at night.

 

Useful Links:

 

Phnom Kulen Mountain

No pilgrimage to Cambodia is complete without a visit to Phnom Kulen, which literally means “Mountain of Lychees”. Considered the most sacred mountain for the Khmer, it is an important place for the faithful to make devotions on weekends and during festivals.

Phnom Kulen is the most sacred mountain for the Khmer in Cambodia

The mountain also has symbolic and historical importance as this is where Jayavarman II declared independence from the Javanese Empire and proclaimed himself a “devaraja” — a god-king with the title “chakravartin”. As the birthplace of the Khmer Empire and Angkor, this first and once-mythical capital city known as “Mahendraparvata” meaning “The Mountain of Great Indra”, is believed to have been as big as Angkor.

Cambodia 62 - Phnom Kulen 2 (Mahendraparvata)

The ancient city, Mahendraparvata, includes temples hidden for centuries by jungle, many of which have not been looted. Click to enlarge.

The mountain is also a protected natural and cultural reserve, designated as Phnom Kulen National Park. The Angkor Pass does not include entrance into the park and foreign visitors entering the site have to pay an entrance fee of USD $20.

Today, Cambodians along with foreign pilgrims visit Phnom Kulen to make devotions at the temple named Preah Ang Thom at the peak of the mountain (home to Cambodia’s largest reclining Buddha), the shrines at Chup Preah and the “Bat Cave”, a meditation cave and hermitage for monks.

 

VIDEO: Discover Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/Cambodia-V11a-Phnom-Kulen-National-Park.mp4

 

Chup Preah

Best known for its waterfalls, Chup Preah is also a pilgrimage site. Wat Preah Chup houses a tall Buddha statue along with several smaller ones and reliefs that date back to the 16th century. These statues are housed in shrines close to the famous 15-metre-tall Cham Pa tree. With a trunk that is seven metres wide at the base, this tree is regarded by the Khmer as the guardian of this sacred valley. Local land spirits propitiated by the Khmer, known as “Teak Na”, also have shrines here.

Cambodia 63 - Phnom Kulen 3 (Wat Preah Chup)

Local Cambodians trekking up the holy mountain of Phnom Kulen often stop at Wat Preah Chup to make prayers and request blessings for safe passage

Cambodia 64 - Phnom Kulen 4 (Chup Preah Waterfall)

The famous Chup Preah waterfalls at Phnom Kulen

 

Preah Ang Thom

A 500-year-old monastery at the peak of the mountain, Preah Ang Thom is the main pilgrimage site at Phnom Kulen. It is home to a massive 17-metre-long reclining Buddha carved out of a giant sandstone boulder in the side of the mountain, the largest such statue in Cambodia.

The gold-painted reclining Buddha is one of the country’s most venerated monuments, and members of the Cambodian royal family and dignitaries have made pilgrimages here to offer devotions and receive blessings from resident monks.

Cambodia 61 - Phnom Kulen 1 (Sleeping Buddha)

The massive 17-metre-long reclining Buddha in Preah Ang Thom

Cambodia 65 - Phnom Kulen 5 (Preah Ang Thom 1)

The Buddhas at Preah Ang Thom, the main pilgrimage site atop Phnom Kulen

At the beginning of the long stairway leading up to the temple are sacred shrines with reliquaries such as a footprint of the Buddha, a holy lingga (a symbolic phallic representation of the Hindu deity Shiva) and a Dharmachakra wheel. The top of the temple offers magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and nearby caves also function as holy hermitages.

REMINDER: When visiting Preah Ang Thom, you must remove your shoes and hat (or any head covering). The same dress codes and rules of conduct for Angkor Park also apply to those visiting Phnom Kulen.

Centuries-old intricate carvings adorn a cave on Phnom Kulen

Cambodia 68 - Phnom Kulen 8 (Preah Ang Thom 4)

Phnom Kulen attracts thousands of visitors each year, both pilgrims and tourists

 

Bat Cave Hermitage

The ‘Bat Cave’ of Phnom Kulen is a remote and secluded cave which is popular amongst tourists for being home to thousands of bats! This cave is also a holy Buddhist site with many shrines and a meditation cave as well as a hermitage.

The Bat Cave on Phnom Kulen is a secluded cave which is home to thousands of bats. It is also a meditation hermitage for monks and lay Buddhists.

Strings of colourful prayer flags welcome visitors at the well-camouflaged, moss-covered entrance. The small cave opening leads into narrow passageways that open into several larger chambers.

Apart from monks, the cave also attracts devotees who come from all over Cambodia as well as from neighbouring countries to spend time here in ascetic meditation, and to learn and practise Dharma with the monks in the cave.

 

Other Places of Interest in Phnom Kulen

Other sites of interest in Phnom Kulen include Kbal Spean, the “River of a Thousand Linggas” where hundreds of linggas and yonis are carved into the sandstone riverbed and rocks on the sides. Visitors come here for the water, which is believed to have potent blessings to aid with fertility.

Cambodia 70 - Phnom Kulen 10 (Kbal Spean)

Another popular site in Phnom Kulen is Kbal Spean, the River of a Thousand Linggas

Srah Damrei or the “Elephant Pond”, with its life-sized stone animal carvings well over a thousand years old, is in a hard-to-find but very scenic location in the jungle. The highlight is a massive four-metre-long elephant standing at three metres tall. The site offers spectacular views across the plains below.

Life-sized stone carvings of elephants and other animals are some of the sights scattered all over Phnom Kulen Mountain. These are pieces of the jigsaw puzzle that is the ancient city of Mahendraparvata.

Prasat Rong Chen, identified as one of the first temple-mountains, is believed to be the temple at the centre of the lost city of Mahendraparvata, and the site of Jayavarman II’s historical proclamation. It is a tiered pyramid not dissimilar to ancient Mayan pyramids in a clearing hidden deeply in the jungle.

Believed to be the temple at the centre of the lost city of Mahendraparvata, Prasat Rong Chen has been described as “the centre of the Khmer universe”.

 

Getting to Phnom Kulen

Getting to this sacred mountain of the Khmers takes at least two hours (usually more) by road from Siem Reap on steep and unpaved roads. Phnom Kulen is too steep for tuk tuks so the only options are with a guided tour, a hired car with driver, or on a motodup.

For the young-at-heart and adventure lovers, a motodup provides thrills and fast travels to the sights on Phnom Kulen.

The going rate is double that of Angkor Park. A moto will cost about USD $20 and car hire comes with a surcharge, starting from USD $50 onwards, depending on the type of vehicle and the number of other places you want to visit.

TIP: Remote places such as the Bat Caves, Srah Damrei and Prasat Rong Chen can be quite difficult to reach, particularly during the wet season. Hence, you may have to hire a specialist guide. You can ask your hotel if they can organise one for you or check if your hired car driver can.

 

Useful Links

 

Tips for Pilgrims Visiting the Temples of Siem Reap and Angkor Park

Unlike conventional holidays, the aim of going on pilgrimage is for the betterment of our spiritual practice. Spiritual power places are charged with sacred energy from the presence of enlightened beings or attained masters who have resided there, or accumulated over time from virtuous and beneficial activities performed there.

Thus, when we visit these power places, show reverence, make offerings and aspirational prayers, we create the direct causes as well as generate merits for us to attain the same state of compassion, awareness and qualities of the enlightened beings.

To help you make the most out of your pilgrimage to the temples of Siem Reap and Angkor Park, here are some tips:

1. Plan your trip well
Research the places you want to visit so you can plan what practices you want to do at each site. Be sure to allocate sufficient time so you are not rushed.

2. Set your motivation
Make the aspiration for your journey to be a reminder and a homage to the noble enlightened qualities of the Buddha; with the result from the pilgrimage being purification of negative karma and accumulation of merit to advance your spiritual practice for the benefit of all sentient beings.

3. Prepare for your practices
There are many practices you can engage in while on pilgrimage. Some of the most popular are circumambulations, making offerings, reciting prayers, mantras and sutras, and even prostrations. Engaging in such virtuous activities while immersed in the blessed energies of holy pilgrimage sites will plant powerful seeds in your mindstream and open up your imprints to further your spiritual path.

Here are some recommended practices that can be done at the temples of Siem Reap and Angkor Park:

  • Make offerings of food, flowers and incense to holy Buddha images
  • Offer robes and dana to the Sangha
  • Recite mantras. The mantras of Shakyamuni, Migtsema, Chenrezig, Manjushri and Dorje Shugden are recommended because many of the Angkorian temples were dedicated to Avalokiteshvara and Prajnaparamita. Your yidam and your guru’s mantra are also excellent to recite.
  • Circumambulate Buddha statues and the stupa at Preah Khan
  • Recite the King of Prayers at the conclusion of your pilgrimage.
  • Engage in the preliminaries such as prostrations and mandala offerings

 

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8 Responses to Amazing Angkor: A Guide to the Buddhist Temples of Siem Reap

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Kindly note that the comments or posts given by third parties in the comment section below do not represent the views of the owner and/or host of this Blog, save for responses specifically given by the owner and/or host. All other comments or posts or any other opinions, discussions or views given below under the comment section do not represent our views and should not be regarded as such. We reserve the right to remove any comments/views which we may find offensive but due to the volume of such comments, the non removal and/or non detection of any such comments/views does not mean that we condone the same.

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  1. Pastor Adeline Woon on Jul 28, 2018 at 6:18 am

    Nice short video of a new LED signage reminding us of who we can go to for blessings in case of need: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EBwrkaKUoH0

  2. Joy Kam on Jul 26, 2018 at 3:20 am

    Listening to the chanting of sacred words, melodies, mantras, sutras and prayers has a very powerful healing effect on our outer and inner environments. It clears the chakras, spiritual toxins, the paths where our ‘chi’ travels within our bodies for health as well as for clearing the mind. It is soothing and relaxing but at the same time invigorates us with positive energy. The sacred sounds invite positive beings to inhabit our environment, expels negative beings and brings the sound of growth to the land, animals, water and plants. Sacred chants bless all living beings on our land as well as inanimate objects. Do download and play while in traffic to relax, when you are about to sleep, during meditation, during stress or just anytime. Great to play for animals and children. Share with friends the blessing of a full Dorje Shugden puja performed at Kechara Forest Retreat by our puja department for the benefit of others. Tsem Rinpoche

    Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbzgskLKxT8&t=5821s

  3. wan wai meng on Jun 26, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    A breathtaking view of the buddhist culture and heritage that once graced the land of the Khmers. The amount of spiritual monuments and structures is a strong indication of what was really important to the ancient Cambodians, their spiritual development and practice.

    Thank you to Rinpoche and the blog team for giving some guidance on how to make the trip to Cambodia an especially spiritual and special one.

    • wan wai meng on Jun 26, 2018 at 8:28 pm

      Excited about the recent discovery of a mountain pyramid Koh Ker in Northern Cambodia. Wonder what we can find there if we do visit that location.

  4. Anne Ong on Jun 25, 2018 at 8:46 pm

    Beautiful sacred and and holy placs of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap. Love the interesting pictures and videos too. Thank you very much Rinpoche and blog team for sharing about Angkor Wat in Siem Reap.🙏😊👍

  5. cc on May 18, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cambodia is a great place to visit.

    Full of historical and amazing architecture and love the place alot but unfortunately alot of Buddha’s head were missing.

    Is a great place for backpack and retreat.
    Alot of walking and climbing and is super sunny.

  6. Samfoonheei on May 15, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Siem Reap is the major tourist attraction in Cambodia, as it is the closest city to the world famous temples of Angkor. Truly amazing………Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world and one of the seven Wonder of the world. It was built in the first half of the 12th century and most known iconic temples which took about 30 years to build. It seems to be an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal in the recent survey. Angkor Wat is an architectural masterpiece and well preserved for its amazing sculptures making it as one of the finest monuments in the world. I have not been there before ,will make a trip to see for myself the beauty of this Seven Wonder of the world.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this interesting post.

  7. Datuk May on May 15, 2018 at 3:03 pm

    Cambodia is a country that had suffered atrocities and violence to her own people during the reign of the Khmer Rouge in the late 1970’s.

    However, Cambodia and her citizens had survived and has inherited the iconic Buddhist temple complex called Angkor duly anointed by Unesco as a world heritage. Many have visited and all are totally mesmerised by the grandeur of the Buddhist Temple complex.

    What really stands out for me is how such a holy place can adapt to being a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu to current Buddhist temple dedicated to Shakymuni Buddha and the Dharma.

    Besides being an iconic Buddhist centre, the history of Angkor is testament to the “goodness” of pure religions that no wars nor blood need to be shed in migrating from an Hindu centre to that of Buddhism. That is the true essence of perfect wisdom and acceptance of the best for human beings.

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Blog Chat

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KECHARA FOREST RETREAT PROGRESS UPDATES

Here is the latest news and pictorial updates, as it happens, of our upcoming forest retreat project.

The Kechara Forest Retreat is a unique holistic retreat centre focused on the total wellness of body, mind and spirit. This is a place where families and individuals will find peace, nourishment and inspiration in a natural forest environment. At Kechara Forest Retreat, we are committed to give back to society through instilling the next generation with universal positive values such as kindness and compassion.

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  • nicholas
    Tuesday, Jun 18. 2019 01:25 AM
    The “One God” Theory Comes from Greek Mythology documentary.

    This is a very interesting documentary of how the one-god theory arose from ancients times. This theory was not the domain of established modern religions but were already existent in pre-modern or pagan religions. This video shows how the one god theory is not the exclusive rights of anyone but in fact was a gradual process taken from Pagan religions. So what we might pre-suppose as modern (non-paganistic) or exclusive of modern religions may not be the case. EXTREMELY INTERESTING.

    Please watch this intriguing documentary. But do concentrate and contemplate. It will be helpful for your religious studies. The one god theory may not be all that it is what we are told.

    Tsem Rinpoche

    Watch here https://bit.ly/2TQooUZ
  • nicholas
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 07:07 PM
    Carlos Castaneda was an American New Age author and a scholar of anthropology — the study of human behaviour and societies. He wrote a series of popular books that described his training and magical experiences in Toltec Shamanism under the guidance of Don Juan Matus, a native Yaqui shaman who lived in Mexico.

    Castaneda’s writings brought him fame as well as controversy. His proponents and critics would debate as to whether his writings were the results of authentic experiences or an overactive imagination. Yet, despite the controversy, his expressive and evocative writing as well as the mysticism that surrounded his persona inspired widespread appreciation for Native American culture and earned him the title of “Godfather of the New Age Movement.”

    Read more anout him at https://bit.ly/2IkYAgU
  • nicholas
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 07:05 PM
    The Jewish people have been persecuted throughout recorded history, from their beginnings in the Middle East, through Europe during the Middle Ages, the Holocaust of the World Wars and into the modern era due to their race and religion. This persecution of a community has been sustained due to religious discrimination. We wanted to provide all of you with just a quick overview of what the Jewish people have been through. We hope you can learn from this, and understand the atrocities that religious persecution can lead to.

    Read more at https://bit.ly/2RpvYGo
  • sarassitham
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 04:47 PM
    Thanks for the wonderful experience and beautiful sharing of the Dorje Shugden Retreat at Kechara Forest Retreat. I loved the idea of this retreat for choosing Manjushri Guest House, which is a special place perched on a hilltop within the enchanting forest landscape of Kechara Forest Retreat for the Dorje Shugden Retreat. Of course learning anything in a super awesome environment is always amazing.

    A good news for those who are planning for mind relaxing in a retreat and choosing a best programmes at the right time. Well, besides exploring the forest retreat the programmes has also strongly connect for all participants to experience their power for overcoming obstacles and bringing peace and fulfillments through the Dharma Protector Dorje Shugden. This wonderful information and a beautiful programmes should not to be missed in life time.

    Hope this Dorje Shugden Retreat programme will be frequently held for the benefits of the article readers.
  • Yee Yin
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 04:37 PM
    A renowned scholar of the Vedas, Buddhism and the Indian arts, a philosopher, and one of India’s great thinkers, Professor Lokesh Chandra was born to an illustrious family of educationists in Ambala, Haryana State, in 1927. He is currently engaged in writing about the cultural influences between India and China during the last two millennia. His other works also contain insightful research on the arts, literature, philosophy, and archaeology of Buddhist cities around the world, which took him all over Europe, Russia and Asia for research purposes.
    Read more about Professor Lokesh Chandra here:

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/books-poetry/professor-lokesh-chandra-indias-great-scholar.html
  • S.Prathap
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 04:36 PM
    This is really a good article about Jack Ma. From this article we can know about his struggles and his life had many ups and downs. Despite his previous failures, he remains a humble leader, who always He is always encouraging others to keep working and trying and not to give up.
    There’s a lot to learn and be inspired.Thanks for sharing is a very motivating story of one of richest man in world .


    https://bit.ly/2AvL3Po

  • Yee Yin
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 04:22 PM
    From time to time we will hear stories about children saying they see things or they are talking or playing with someone that obviously is not visible. We will always ask them to stop talking about it and brush them off. It is said that because children are purer, they are able to see things that we cannot see. Some of them are born with the third eye so they have the ability to see the unseen. We should teach them how to recite mantras and avoid establishing a close connection with them because we do not know if these beings are harmful. Or we can bring the child to a Buddhist master to get some blessings to protect them from harmful entities.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/psychic-kids.html
  • Yee Yin
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:51 PM
    Have you heard of the goddess Miyolangsangma before? She is also known as the Goddess of Inexhaustible Giving. Both Sherpas and Tibetans also believe that Mount Everest is the abode of the goddess Jomo Miyolangsangma. Miyolangsangma is one of the Five Long-life Sisters. Her abode is said to be at the summit of Mount Everest, known in Tibetan as Jomolungma (Goddess Mother of Mountains), and she is the resident goddess of Mount Everest and the Khumbu area in general. She is depicted riding on a tiger. Read more about what her function is and her importance in the Sherpas belief.

    bit.ly/Miyolangsangma
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:30 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. It is true that each Dalai Lama is a unique individual, they have been philosophers, builders and even poets, and as each is revered as a Bodhisattva who possess great mystical powers and can incarnate life after life.

    The Dalai Lama is one of the world’s revered religious leaders, but that didn’t prevent four holders of the office from mysteriously dying. An autopsy proved inconclusive, but, for Yan, the identity of the murderers was obvious where the the twelfth Dalai Lama and his three predecessors were all “victims of the power struggles between the big clerical and lay serf-owners in Tibet.” .

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2US6LEB
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:19 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. By reading this article, i get to know that the term ‘Jewish’ is applied to an ethno-religious group of people that practise Judaism. This means that it encompasses both an ethnicity and a religion at the same time.

    The majority of the Jewish people around the world descend from two distinct groups coming from Europe. In fact due to the religious pluralism prevalent in India, the Jewish population have lived in relative peace and harmony, allowing the adherence to their faith without much opposition. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2RpvYGo
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:14 PM
    Statistically, video games are now the most popular and profitable form of entertainment. For me , there’s always side effect on video games. I have seen many kids that have addicted to it and neglected their studies. One of the most detrimental effects of playing violent video games is increased aggression in children. A video game addiction can be harmful if the kids is unable to participate in any interests or extracurricular activities in schools. But by close supervision by parents I personally thinks playing video games is alright. Or else there will be many problems such as health, poor performance in their studies, increased in metal aggression and might suffered in relationships.
    The effects of playing video games are both positive and negative. When playing violent video games too much, it can leads to and increased aggressive behaviour as over time. Even some scientists has claim violent video games, have an adverse effect on young people.
    Over all conclusion, I would said that violent video games is harmful to society especially the younger ones. I have read in papers that it had cause death to those addicted ones.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Wei Tan for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/art-architecture/are-violent-video-games-harmful-to-society.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:12 PM
    Well…..Rinpoche had missed the opportunity to work in Paramount because of some unfortunate circumstances. Or else Rinpoche would have been a star in Hollywood. For us we are fortunate that Rinpoche’s choice of choosing to be a monk to benefit many across the globe by spreading Dharma. May Rinpoche’s teachings flourish and endure.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/i-almost-worked-in-paramount.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:11 PM
    Every culture has its own world-view. In Tibet , it is renowned for its inclusion and development of psychic abilities among those very highly attained Lamas. In kids is rarely, most probably , they inherited the psychic power from their parents . It could be either good and bad, sometimes it cause harm to themselves too when there is extremely negative energy. It’s a torture and scary for anyone to experience and feel the existing of unseen beings or spirits . Interesting watch of the 3 young girls with psychic abilities.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this video sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/psychic-kids-4.html
  • Chris
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:11 PM
    Thank you, Rinpoche and the blog team to share this good news with us. I rejoice for the retreatants who completed their Dorje Shugden retreat. Dorje Shugden retreat is a very beneficial activity for us to do to take a breather away from our city life where we are stressed out with many issues every single day.

    I have personally done retreats in Kechara Forest Retreat, and the experience is fantastic. Kechara Forest Retreat is a spiritually charged place where so many blessings were done on the land. Hence, any spiritual activities carried out there will be more effective. No to mention the environment here is stunning and so close to nature, which is very beneficial if we are looking to heal our mind and body.

    Thanks to Rinpoche, we now have an ideal place to do our retreats, which is Manjushri Guest House. Away from other activities in KFR, the much-needed silence and tranquillity in retreats can be found here. Rinpoche is always thinking of ways to improve our spiritual experience in KFR and hence KFR turned out to be as it is, a heaven on earth.

    http://bit.ly/2IkZYQw
  • Ummamageswari
    Monday, Jun 17. 2019 03:05 PM
    Thank you so much for this article. It is good to know that another group of five Kecharians have completed their three-day, two-night Dorje Shugden Retreat at Kechara Forest Retreat. Dorje Shugden is an enlightened protector who is also the emanation of the Buddha of Wisdom, Manjushri, where he is also one of the six Dharma protectors.

    Through Dorje Shugden Retreat, we are able to achieve the benefits of his practice which are generating compassion, kindness, wisdom, insight, clarity, good memory and the removal of obstacles. Thank you.

    Read more: https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

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My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

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After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
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1 month ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
1 month ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
1 month ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
1 month ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
1 month ago
Silver Manjusri figure from Ngemplak Semongan (Indonesia). Apparently during the Shailendra Dynasty, Mahayana Buddhism was very strong in Indonesia. This Dynasty promoted Mahayana Buddhism and Manjushri was a principal Buddha of worship.
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
1 month ago
In Buddhism: The Importance of Having a Clean Room- https://bit.ly/2ZgrbKS
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
2 months ago
There is an area near Lumbini, Nepal, they have sightings of Yeti for hundreds of years. So they have signages in the area with Yeti artwork to highlight this. Interesting. TR
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
2 months ago
Photos of footprints (Yeti) are from a high altitude pass (Darwa Pass) connecting Gangotri valley to Yamunotri valley through old pilgrim route.
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
2 months ago
Beautiful picture. Rare. Three holy beings.
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden\'s grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
May 1, 2019-I really enjoy this picture of these visitors visiting Dorje Shugden's grotto in Kechara Forest Retreat today. They look happy, light and blessed after doing their prayers to Dorje Shugden. I wanted to share this picture.- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
A postcard of my great grand aunt Princess Nirgidma of Torghut-Tsem Rinpoche
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
2 months ago
Rei Kawakubo – Grand Dame of ‘Hiroshima Chic’- https://bit.ly/2Vz4N06
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Just now, this beautiful grape and orange infused water drink with a blue glass was brought in for me. I was amazed at the colors. Tsem Rinpoche
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche 

www.tsemrinpoche.com
2 months ago
We have to look in and change from within to find the way out of all that makes us unhappy.~Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
2 months ago
文冬野人咖啡厅开张了!- https://bit.ly/2IRGdBM
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
Click on this picture and read about this very sad girl. Please offer your prayers for her to take a good rebirth. Tsem Rinpoche
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
2 months ago
Bigfoot cafe in Bentong, Malaysia-Delicious vegetarian food in a beautiful setting- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
Tsem Rinpoche\'s personal shrine.
2 months ago
Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
In Kechara Forest Retreat- Bentong, Malaysia, we have a beautiful outdoor offering grotto dedicated to Lord Dorje Shugden who fulfills the wishes of many visitors- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
2 months ago
In Kechara Forest Retreat- Bentong, Malaysia, we have a beautiful outdoor offering grotto dedicated to Lord Dorje Shugden who fulfills the wishes of many visitors- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Guhya Manjushri of the Forbidden City| 密德文殊室利佛- https://bit.ly/2J3HIvM
2 months ago
Guhya Manjushri of the Forbidden City| 密德文殊室利佛- https://bit.ly/2J3HIvM
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Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • Your Next Meal!
    1 week ago
    Your Next Meal!
    Yummy? Tasty? Behind the scenes of the meat on your plates. Meat is a killing industry.
  • This is Daw
    1 week ago
    This is Daw
    This is what they do to get meat on tables, and to produce belts and jackets. Think twice before your next purchase.
  • Don’t Take My Mummy Away!
    1 week ago
    Don’t Take My Mummy Away!
    Look at the poor baby chasing after the mother. Why do we do that to them? It's time to seriously think about our choices in life and how they affect others. Be kind. Don't break up families.
  • They do this every day!
    1 week ago
    They do this every day!
    This is how they are being treated every day of their lives. Please do something to stop the brutality. Listen to their cries for help!
  • What happened at Fair Oaks Farm?
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    What happened at Fair Oaks Farm?
    The largest undercover dairy investigation of all time. See what they found out at Fair Oaks Farm.
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    2 weeks ago
    She’s going to spend her whole life here without being able to move correctly. Like a machine. They are the slaves of the people and are viewed as a product. It’s immoral. Billions of terrestrial animals die annually. Billions. You can’t even imagine it. And all that because people don’t want to give up meat, even though there are so many alternatives. ~ Gabriel Azimov
  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 months ago
    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    2 months ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
  • Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
    2 months ago
    Beautiful Monastery in Hong Kong
  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 months ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    2 months ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
  • These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 months ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 months ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    2 months ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    3 months ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
  • Beautiful
    3 months ago
    Beautiful
    Beautiful sacred Severed Head Vajra Yogini from Tsem Rinpoche's personal shrine.
  • My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
  • Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 months ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 months ago
    Cruelty of some people have no limits and it’s heartbreaking. Being kind cost nothing. Tsem Rinpoche
  • SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    5 months ago
    SUPER ADORABLE and must see
    Tsem Rinpoche's dog Oser girl enjoying her snack in her play pen.
  • Cute!
    5 months ago
    Cute!
    Oser girl loves the balcony so much. - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTcoWpKJm2c
  • Uncle Wong
    5 months ago
    Uncle Wong
    We were told by Uncle Wong he is very faithful toward Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden has extended help to him on several occasions and now Uncle Wong comes daily to make incense offerings to Dorje Shugden. He is grateful towards the help he was given.
  • Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
    5 months ago
    Tsem Rinpoche’s Schnauzer Dharma boy fights Robot sphere from Arkonide!
  • Cute baby owl found and rescued
    6 months ago
    Cute baby owl found and rescued
    We rescued a lost baby owl in Kechara Forest Retreat.
  • Nice cups from Kechara!!
    6 months ago
    Nice cups from Kechara!!
    Dorje Shugden people's lives matter!
  • Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    6 months ago
    Enjoy a peaceful morning at Kechara Forest Retreat
    Chirping birds and other forest animals create a joyful melody at the Vajrayogini stupa in Kechara Forest Retreat (Bentong, Malaysia).
  • His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    6 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche makes offering of khata to Dorje Shugden.
    Trijang Rinpoche never gave up his devotion to Dorje Shugden no matter how much Tibetan government in exile pressured him to give up. He stayed loyal inspiring so many of us.
  • Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
    6 months ago
    Very rare video of His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche the 10th, the all knowing and compassionate one. I pay deep respects to this attained being who has taken many rebirths since the time of Lord Buddha to be of benefit to sentient beings tirelessly. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
    6 months ago
    This bigfoot researcher gives good reasonings on bigfoot. Interesting short video.
  • His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
    6 months ago
    His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Shartse Monastery was one of the teachers of Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. Here in this beautiful video is Geshe Kelsang Gyatso showing his centre to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche, then proceeding to sit down to receive teachings. For more information- https://bit.ly/2QNac1u
  • This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    2 yearss ago
    This topic is so hot in many circles right now.
    This video is thought-provoking and very interesting. Watch! Thanks so much to our friends at LIVEKINDLY.
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    Chiropractic CHANGES LIFE for teenager with acute PAIN & DEAD LEG.
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    BEAUTIFUL PLACE IN NEW YORK STATE-AMAZING.
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    Leonardo DiCaprio takes on the meat Industry with real action.
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    Do psychic mediums have messages from beyond?
  • Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Lovely gift for my 52nd Birthday. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
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    This 59-year-old chimpanzee was refusing food and ready to die until...
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  • Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
    2 yearss ago
    Bigfoot sighted again and made it to the news.
  • Casper is such a cute and adorable. I like him.
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  • Dorje Shugden Monastery Amarbayasgalant  Mongolia's Ancient Hidden Gem
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  • Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
    2 yearss ago
    Don't you love Hamburgers? See how 'delicious' it is here!
  • Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 yearss ago
    Such a beautiful and powerful message from a person who knows the meaning of life. Tsem Rinpoche
  • What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    2 yearss ago
    What the meat industry figured out is that you don't need healthy animals to make a profit.
    Sick animals are more profitable... farms calculate how close to death they can keep animals without killing them. That's the business model. How quickly they can be made to grow, how tightly they can be packed, how much or how little can they eat, how sick they can get without dying... We live in a world in which it's conventional to treat an animal like a block of wood. ~ Jonathan Safran Foer
  • This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
    2 yearss ago
    This video went viral and it's a must watch!!
  • SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    2 yearss ago
    SEE HOW THIS ANIMAL SERIAL KILLER HAS NO ISSUE BLUDGEONING THIS DEFENSELESS BEING.
    This happens daily in slaughterhouse so you can get your pork and Bak ku teh. Stop eating meat.

ASK A PASTOR


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A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

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CHAT PICTURES

‪Supermarkets and food stores have been adopting various approaches to minimise wastage of perishable goods. We are glad that AEON Retail Malaysia is one of them. #Kechara #foodbank #zerofoodwastage ‬- Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
4 hours ago
‪Supermarkets and food stores have been adopting various approaches to minimise wastage of perishable goods. We are glad that AEON Retail Malaysia is one of them. #Kechara #foodbank #zerofoodwastage ‬- Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Throwback - Art & Craft session. Lin Mun KSDS
yesterday
Throwback - Art & Craft session. Lin Mun KSDS
Throwback - some games to bond the students. Lin Mun KSDS
yesterday
Throwback - some games to bond the students. Lin Mun KSDS
Children learn to do water offering. Lin Mun KSDS
yesterday
Children learn to do water offering. Lin Mun KSDS
Today’s dharma class subject - Altar set up and offerings. Lin Mun KSDS
yesterday
Today’s dharma class subject - Altar set up and offerings. Lin Mun KSDS
Animal liberation in Kechara House this morning. Lin Mun KSDS
yesterday
Animal liberation in Kechara House this morning. Lin Mun KSDS
Manjushri Nagarakshasa or Jampel Nagarakshasa is a direct emanation of Manjushri but appears with the lower half of a naga. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2MSqHYR
2 days ago
Manjushri Nagarakshasa or Jampel Nagarakshasa is a direct emanation of Manjushri but appears with the lower half of a naga. Read more here: http://bit.ly/2MSqHYR
Vegetarian food provided for the retreat participants. Read more about Kechara Forest Retreat: https://www.kecharaforestretreat.com
2 days ago
Vegetarian food provided for the retreat participants. Read more about Kechara Forest Retreat: https://www.kecharaforestretreat.com
Pastor Gim Lee giving guidance. "Pastor Gim Lee and I assisted the retreatants in setting up the altar and Pastor Gim Lee performed Druchuma Puja (Kalarupa) to start the retreat. Pastor Gim Lee also guided them during the first session to introduce them to retreat procedures. The group completed 7 sessions of retreat and ended each night with circumambulation of the holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat. Dinner and lunch were catered by the kitchen team in Dukkar Apartments, which were all delicious and beautifully presented. All participants loved the food." by Cynthia Ng
2 days ago
Pastor Gim Lee giving guidance. "Pastor Gim Lee and I assisted the retreatants in setting up the altar and Pastor Gim Lee performed Druchuma Puja (Kalarupa) to start the retreat. Pastor Gim Lee also guided them during the first session to introduce them to retreat procedures. The group completed 7 sessions of retreat and ended each night with circumambulation of the holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat. Dinner and lunch were catered by the kitchen team in Dukkar Apartments, which were all delicious and beautifully presented. All participants loved the food." by Cynthia Ng
Shrine and offerings to Manjushri Dorje Shugden for the retreat.
2 days ago
Shrine and offerings to Manjushri Dorje Shugden for the retreat.
Kechara House regularly provides facilities for spiritual retreats.
2 days ago
Kechara House regularly provides facilities for spiritual retreats.
Reciting prayers, meditation and concentration on powerful Manjushri Dorje Shugden at Kechara Forest Retreat. This is to remove obstacles for success in our lives. Pastor Gim Lee of Kechara House is guiding the retreatants.
2 days ago
Reciting prayers, meditation and concentration on powerful Manjushri Dorje Shugden at Kechara Forest Retreat. This is to remove obstacles for success in our lives. Pastor Gim Lee of Kechara House is guiding the retreatants.
Earlier this month, five members from our Puja House engaged in a Dorje Shugden retreat, spending three days in Kechara Forest Retreat strongly focused on Dorje Shugden whilst reciting 185,000 of his mantra. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to create a closer connection with this enlightened Dharma Protector, as H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche shares. If you would like more information about how you too can engage in retreats at Kechara Forest Retreat, please direct your enquiries to our friendly Front Desk team (care@kechara.com or +603 7803 3908).
2 days ago
Earlier this month, five members from our Puja House engaged in a Dorje Shugden retreat, spending three days in Kechara Forest Retreat strongly focused on Dorje Shugden whilst reciting 185,000 of his mantra. It was a fantastic opportunity for them to create a closer connection with this enlightened Dharma Protector, as H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche shares. If you would like more information about how you too can engage in retreats at Kechara Forest Retreat, please direct your enquiries to our friendly Front Desk team (care@kechara.com or +603 7803 3908).
Join us this weekend for the Spiritual Saturday Programme in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 15 JUNE: 7.00 am - 9 am: KFR Pilgrimage 9.00 am - 10.45 am: Design & string malas (Tibetan rosaries) 11.00 am - 12.30 pm: Rinpoche's Recommendations - Liz Taylor 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm: Lunch @ MGH INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!) contact us at least two days in advance. Call +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See you Saturday! More info: bit.ly/2X6FpML
4 days ago
Join us this weekend for the Spiritual Saturday Programme in Kechara Forest Retreat! SATURDAY, 15 JUNE: 7.00 am - 9 am: KFR Pilgrimage 9.00 am - 10.45 am: Design & string malas (Tibetan rosaries) 11.00 am - 12.30 pm: Rinpoche's Recommendations - Liz Taylor 12.30 pm - 2.30 pm: Lunch @ MGH INTERESTED? To RSVP your place (and your meal!) contact us at least two days in advance. Call +6017 965 9484 (WhatsApp) retreat@kechara.com See you Saturday! More info: bit.ly/2X6FpML
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
4 days ago
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
4 days ago
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
4 days ago
We are very blessed to be here in Kechara Forest Retreat as we work to preserve the sacred lineage of Dorje Shugden and we wish to share Dorje Shugden’s blessings with the world. http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
A big thanks to Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur for sponsoring and serving lunch yesterday to our street friends. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
5 days ago
A big thanks to Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur for sponsoring and serving lunch yesterday to our street friends. - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
Rejoice for the Dorje Shugden works and archives in Kechara Forest Retreat! The new signage is dedicated to all the beautiful Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world for over 350 years, who have kept their commitment to their teachers to practice and hold the lineage, and share the lineage with others. Read here: http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
1 week ago
Rejoice for the Dorje Shugden works and archives in Kechara Forest Retreat! The new signage is dedicated to all the beautiful Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world for over 350 years, who have kept their commitment to their teachers to practice and hold the lineage, and share the lineage with others. Read here: http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
Rejoice for the Dorje Shugden works and archives in Kechara Forest Retreat! The new signage is dedicated to all the beautiful Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world for over 350 years, who have kept their commitment to their teachers to practice and hold the lineage, and share the lineage with others. Read here: http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
1 week ago
Rejoice for the Dorje Shugden works and archives in Kechara Forest Retreat! The new signage is dedicated to all the beautiful Dorje Shugden practitioners around the world for over 350 years, who have kept their commitment to their teachers to practice and hold the lineage, and share the lineage with others. Read here: http://bit.ly/2Mzm9qq
Our food bank distribution activities throughout the #HariRaya week. Couldn\'t thank the volunteers and everyone from Tesco Malaysia and AEON Retail Malaysia for the great cooperation to help make sure everything is ok on the supplying side. Their professionalism is second to none and that enabled our team to collect and disseminate the food in an orderly manner. #KecharaFoodBank #foodbank #HungerKnowsNoBarriers #Perak #Volunteers - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
1 week ago
Our food bank distribution activities throughout the #HariRaya week. Couldn't thank the volunteers and everyone from Tesco Malaysia and AEON Retail Malaysia for the great cooperation to help make sure everything is ok on the supplying side. Their professionalism is second to none and that enabled our team to collect and disseminate the food in an orderly manner. #KecharaFoodBank #foodbank #HungerKnowsNoBarriers #Perak #Volunteers - Vivian @ Kechara Soup Kitchen
1 week ago
Pastor Han Nee blessing the birds during animal liberation before releasing them. Lin Mun KSDS
1 week ago
Pastor Han Nee blessing the birds during animal liberation before releasing them. Lin Mun KSDS
So wonderful to have parents and children participating in monthly animal liberation in Kechara House
1 week ago
So wonderful to have parents and children participating in monthly animal liberation in Kechara House
Teacher Laura and teacher Asyley guided children to do prostration. Lin Mun KSDS
1 week ago
Teacher Laura and teacher Asyley guided children to do prostration. Lin Mun KSDS
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  Tsem Rinpoche's Long Life Prayer by H.H. Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche
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  Robe Offerings
  Vajrayogini Stupa Fund
  White Tara Mantra Bank Project
  Rinpoche's Medical Fund
  Dana Offerings
  Soup Kitchen Project
 
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Dorje Shugden
Click to watch my talk about Dorje Shugden....