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The forgotten temples of Cambodia’s Banteay Chhmar

Across The Lens
The forgotten temples of Cambodia’s Banteay Chhmar

Amasia | May 9, 2020

The forgotten temples of Cambodia’s Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar is an impressive city temple complex which can be rivaled that of Angkor Thom and Preah Khan of Kompong Svay is surrounded by enormous trees and covered in astonishingly intricate bas-reliefs. About a two-hour drive from Siem Reap is going to bring you to these remote ruins that are also the site of a superb community-based homestay and tourism program. If you’re looking for a chance to truly discover Cambodian rural life and would like to spend some quality time amid an off the beaten track temple complex, you could hardly find a more perfect spot


The 12th century Angkorian temple – Banteay Chhmar was constructed by Cambodia’s most prolific builder, Jayavarman VII (r 1181–1219) who was responsible for Bayon, Ta Prohm, Preah Khan, Srah Srang, Terrace of the Elephants, Preah Palilay, Banteay Kdei, and many more. The main temple housed one of the largest and most impressive Buddhist monasteries of the Angkor period, was originally enclosed by a 9km-long wall. It is one of 2 sites outside Angkor featured several towers bearing enigmatic four – faced style Avalokiteshvara (Buddhist deities) with their mysterious and iconic smiles. Besides that, the surrounding gallery is carved with bas – reliefs which demonstrates military engagements and daily life scenes like Bayon.

The right hand is thought to be noble but the left hand is said to be unclean. Therefore, do not use your left hand to give any things or shake hands with others.

The effort from the Cambodian government, local authorities together with international partners like Global Heritage Fund (GHF) and Heritage Watch have made such a dedication in temple’s dedication as well as the improvement in local life. In some ways, after more than 800 years, this temple complex is remaining the same.


It is located in Banteay Meanchey Province in the Northwaest of Cambodia which is around 170 kilometres away from Siem Reap. It includes 105 kilometres brings you to Sisophon, the capital of Banteay Meanchey province, and an up – north 65 kilometres lean road will bring you to the site. Getting there is much easier than it used to be and is reachable by taxi from Siem Reap or Battambang, or public bus to Sisophon.

Apart from the temples, the countryside is worthwhile for some exploration. Why don’t you rent a bicycle or scooter and take some peaceful time of yourself to enjoy the refresh atmosphere of the rural life. Pass through rice fields, you could expect to meet up with friendly locals and their intriguing way of life which you might hardly can experience anywhere else.

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