20 July 2012

PHNOM CHISOR - MOUNTAIN OF THE SUN GOD



400 steps up
400 steps lead up to Phnom Chisor, a hilltop Khmer site built in the 11th century A.D.  

But the long and sweaty climb up the mountain is very rewarding when it is completed. After Preah Vihear (which we will cover sometime later) this is the site which offers the most spectacular views of the surrounding land. 

Rice fields on the planes
Phnom Chisor is of course in southern Cambodia, south of Phnom Penh and required our own transportation. Luckily my guide arranged everything, including the best timing to climb up the mountain, which was originally called Suyaparvata, or the Mountain of the Sun God. And it is a name that is fully deserved!


Steep cliffs
What a difference to other temples this was! No tourists at all! I loved it and it was a site which makes a photographers heart smile!  Here too we had one child, which sold cold drinks just before we made it to the top of the mountain, follow us around and acted as a self-made tour guide. She never really said a word, but it was a way for her to earn a little tip :-)


Phnom Chisor
There is a modern monastery right next to the temple, just before we approached the huge Buddha tree and the main temple site.


Standing on the edge of the steep cliff we were able to make out other remains of Phnom Chisor down on the plains. They all formed a straight line from the main sanctuary towards Angkor and a steep 400 stairs would lead up to the temple and had to be climbed in ancient rituals. 

Beautiful lintels

We truly enjoyed every lintel and every carving in this temple which frequently displayed Kala and the Hindu trinity or Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, their consorts and vehicles. 


In the main sanctuary is a small shrine which is managed by a local Brahman, who will assist visitors during a prayer and a blessing ceremony.


Main sanctuary
I was really taken by this site and we spent much more time up here than planned, enjoying the views and studying every building and carving of the temple. 

After seeing Phnom Chisor, I decided that we would not continue to drive down south to visit Phnom Da, another site. It would have taken away from the great experience we had up here and would have required hurrying through both sites without doing them justice.





Modern monastery

More sanctuaries on the plains


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