Phnom Kulen National Park
Siemreap: Phnom Kulen National Park is located in Svay Leu District about 48 km from the provincial town of Siem Reap and about 25 km from Prasat Banteay Srey via Charles De Gaulle Road. There are several nature features, historical places, and other sights making Kulen National Park an interesting place to visit.
It has major symbolic importance for Cambodia as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, for it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE.
Jayavarman II initiated the Devaraja cult of the king:99–101 a linga cult, in what is dated as 804 CE and declaring his independence from Java of whom the Khmer had been a vassalage state (whether this is actually “Java”, the Khmer chvea used to describe Champa, or “Lava” (a Lao kingdom) is debated, as well as the legend that he was earlier held as a ransom of the kingdom in Java. See Higham’s The Civilization of Angkor for more information about the debate).
During the Angkorian era the relief was known as Mahendraparvata (the mountain of Great Indra). Phnom Kulen was further developed under the rule of Udayadityavarman II, who made it the capital of his empire and constructed many temples and residences as well as the 1000 Lingas at Kbal Spean. At its peak, the Kulen development was larger than modern-day Phnom Penh and one of the largest cities in the 11th-century world. It would later be eclipsed by Angkor, but still served a vital role, as its water irrigated the entire region.
Chup Preah is a valley featuring several statues made during the 16th century.
The Kbal Spean archaeological site, also known as “Valley of a thousand Lingas” is located on the mountain, along the Kbal Spean River, which is tributary of Siem Reap River. The site has many figures of Yoni and Linga as well as other figures carved into the rocks of the riverbed and banks which may become fully exposed in the dry season when the river dries up. The river is shallow and small waterfalls form at the site in the wet season. The site is accessible by trekking uphill through a 1.5 km jungle track from the parking site.
Terrace of Sdach Kamlung is a plain terrace with a small ruined temple made of bricks in the middle. The terrace was once covered with lava.
Statue of the reclining Buddha in Wat Preah Ang Thom.
Preah Ang Thom is an 8 meter tall statue of the reclining Buddha reaching nirvana. The statue is carved into a huge sandstone boulder. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for Phnom Kulen. There are also two big trees of Cham Pa at nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, there are Chhok Ruot(footprint of Preah Bat Choan Tuk), Peung Chhok, Peung Ey So and Peung Ey.
There are two main waterfalls in Phnom Kulen
- First waterfall: 4-5 meter tall and around 25 meter wide during the rainy seasons.
- Second waterfall: 15-20 meter tall and around 15 meter wide during the rainy seasons.
The size of the waterfalls varies according to the seasons and the rain.