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Phnom Krom

Phnom Krom

Updated: 2017-05-28 06:32:00

This is the big hill that you see near the landing if you head to Siem Reap by bullet boat. The hilltop area provides magnificent panoramic views of the Great Lake Tonle Sap, the surrounding countryside and Siem Reap town. The commanding view of the lake was used for a more practical, albeit more deadly, purpose in the fairly recent past as evidenced by a big gun mounted on the side of the hill and pointing toward the landing part of the Great Lake.

A modern-era active temple shares the hilltop with the temple ruins of Phnom Krom. Thee are seven crumbling towers among the ruins in two lines, with four towers east and three towers a bit higher up nearby and west. The 11th ? century ruins are definitely in need of a facelift and it looks like they may get one at s0om e point as a sign in front states that a project is underway. Unfortunately, the same sign has made the same announcement with no results apparent since a year ago when I last visited the site.

To get here, just follow Sivutha Street south out of Siem Reap. The road follows the river for much of the way and road is in good shape for most of the short journey. You will arrive at the base of the hill after just fifteen minutes and there is an archway and stairway that you take up about halfway, which leads to the spot near the big gun. From there you follow a small road to the temple area. You can actually ride all the way up by going past the stairway, beyond the house and tree area, where you will see a long out-building off on the right side. Follow the small road that runs along side of the building and stay on this winding road to the temple area. There are drink and food stands at the base of the stairway to re-hydrate after the trip.

As you can’t see the temple from ground level, the vast majority of visitors who head out for a tour of the lake to Chong Kneas floating village or arriving by ferry into Siem Reap are oblivious to the site.

Phnom Krom sits within a 50-metre-square enclosure, upon which are three ruined sandstone towers on a north-south axis. Running from north to south the towers are dedicated to Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma.

Partly due to age, partly due to the use of sandstone and partly due to the prevailing strong winds that blow off the Tonle Sap, the decorative works throughout this site are in very poor condition. Nevertheless, the site is not a complete loss as the views — all 360 degrees of them, taking in the Tonle Sap to the West Baray — are absolutely magnificent, especially when the lake has flooded and creeps up ever closer to the foot of the hill. The best time to visit is late afternoon.

Phrom Krom can be accessed by either a long, steamy and sweaty climb up the stairs, or by road in a car or by motorbike. On the road there is also a lookout point halfway up. A temple pass is required to make the ascent.

BACKGROUND

Yasovarman I built a temple on each of the three hills dominating the plain of Angkor, Bakheng, Phnom Krom and Phnom Bok. The temple of Phnom Krom is visible from the airplane as one fly into Siem Reap.

LAYOUT

Phnom Krom is a square plan and consists of three towers in a row situated dramatically on a hilltop. They were dedicated to Siva, Visnu and Brahma respectively.

The upper portions of the towers have collapsed and the facades are very degraded but otherwise they remain intact. The towers are enclosed by a literate wall intersected on each side by an entry tower in the shape of a cross.

Three long halls built of laterite (only the bases of which remain) parallel the wall around the courtyard. They probably served as rest houses. Four small building inside the courtyard preceded the sanctuaries. They are similar except that the two at either end are brick and the two in the middle are sandstone. All four have a series of holes in the walls, which suggests they may have been used as crematoriums.

CENTRAL TOWERS

The three central towers stand on a north south axis on a low rectangular platform with molding constructed of sandstone paving over a laterite base. Two sides of the base are intercepted by three stairways with lions on the landings. The towers are square and originally had four recessed tiers on the upper portion. they open to the east and west with false doors on the north south. Traces of decoration remain around the base of the platform near the stairs, on the pilasters, the panels of the false doors, the cornices and on niches in the corners. The upper terrace affords a panoramic view of the Great Lake and the surrounding plain.

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