Posted 22 January 2024

(Photos by: Apsara National Authority)

Bakong: The Towering Temple of Roluos Group's Ancient City

Bakong stands as one of the most prominent landmarks of the Roluos Group, located in what was once the ancient city of Hariharalaya, near present-day Siem Reap. Built in the late 9th century during the reign of King Indravarman I, Bakong is one of the earliest temple mountains in Khmer architectural history, pre-dating the famous Angkor Wat.

This historical temple was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and signifies the first significant use of sandstone as a primary building material in Khmer temples. Bakong's design symbolizes Mount Meru, the mythical home of the gods in Hindu cosmology, represented by a stepped pyramid structure surrounded by moats, which symbolize the mythical oceans.

The approach to the temple is a profound journey, passing through a series of Naga-lined causeways and gateways, leading to the central sanctuary. The lower levels of the temple feature intricate carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and scenes of ancient Khmer life.

At the heart of Bakong lies the central tower, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding area, including glimpses of the other Roluos Group temples. The temple complex also includes eight brick towers and a series of smaller buildings and libraries, many of which have undergone restoration.

Bakong is surrounded by a serene atmosphere, with lush greenery and a relatively peaceful environment, away from the hustle and bustle of the main Angkor temple complexes. This adds to the charm of exploring Bakong, making it a favorite among visitors seeking a more tranquil experience.

Bakong's historical significance as one of the earliest temple mountains, combined with its architectural beauty and serene setting, makes it a key destination for understanding the evolution of Khmer architecture and the religious history of the region.

Major Sight Spots in Bakong

Central Tower: The main sanctuary offering panoramic views.

Carvings and Bas-reliefs: Depicting Hindu mythology and Khmer history.

Naga-Lined Causeways: The ceremonial approach to the temple.

Surrounding Moat: Symbolizing the mythical oceans.

Outlying Brick Towers: Each with unique architectural features.


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