Beng Mealea
Posted 5 January 2024

(Photos by: Apsara National Authority)

Beng Mealea: Exploring the Enchanting Ruins Hidden in the Jungle

Beng Mealea, a temple shrouded in mystery and nestled in the lush jungles of Siem Reap, offers a unique adventure to its visitors. Located about 40 kilometers east of the main group of temples at Angkor, this temple, thought to have been built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, echoes the architectural style of Angkor Wat but is enveloped by a more untamed, natural setting.

Covered in a tapestry of twisting tree roots and vines, Beng Mealea has a raw, untouched appeal. The temple complex spans over one square kilometer and is surrounded by a vast moat, which is now dry. Visitors are greeted by piles of intricately carved sandstone blocks scattered among the towering trees, giving a sense of discovery akin to finding a hidden treasure.

Walking through Beng Mealea is like stepping back in time. The temple's corridors, courtyards, and crumbling towers are largely unrestored, offering a rare glimpse into the natural state of these ancient structures. The sense of serenity and isolation amidst the ruins is palpable, offering a stark contrast to the more restored and visited temples in the Angkor region.

The bas-reliefs and carvings that remain are exquisite, showcasing scenes from Hindu mythology and ancient Khmer life. Due to the overgrown nature of the temple, many of these carvings are intertwined with roots and vines, creating a unique symbiosis of art and nature.

Beng Mealea's secluded location and mystic ambiance make it a favorite among photographers and adventurers seeking a less-traveled path. The temple's quiet, somber atmosphere invites contemplation and exploration, making it a must-visit for those interested in the history and natural beauty of Cambodia.

Major Sight Spots in Beng Mealea

  • Overgrown Courtyards: Nature intertwined with ruins.
  • Central Sanctuary: The heart of the temple complex.
  • Library Structures: Though in ruins, they offer a glimpse into the temple's layout.
  • Carved Bas-reliefs: Hidden among the roots and foliage.
  • Outer Enclosures: Encompassing the temple's perimeter.

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