Beng Mealea Temple, Cambodia

Beng Mealea was built in middle of the 12th century, with later additions in the reing of the SuryavarmanII with the style of Agnkor Wat and dedicated to Hinduism. This temple is located some 40km from Siem Reap and the main UNESCO archaeological park. Visit Beng Mealea Temple with Indochina tours Cambodia

It was built as Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting Buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps.

Walls and windows at Beng Mealea
Walls and windows at Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea is oriented toward the east, but has entranceways from the other three cardinal directions. The basic layout is three enclosing galleries around a central sanctuary, collapsed at present. The enclosures are tied with “cruciform cloisters”, like Angkor Wat. Structures known as libraries lie to the right and left of the avenue that leads in from the east. There is extensive carving of scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Churning of the Sea of Milk and Vishnu being borne by the bird god Garuda. Causeways have long balustrades formed by bodies of the seven-headed Naga serpent. Tours in Cambodia

Beng Mealea temple
Beng Mealea temple

Up until a couple of years ago, Beng Mealea was hard to visit – it lay down a rutted dirt road sixty bone jolting kilometers from the main Angkor temple complex where the likes of Angkor Wat, The Bayon and Ta Phrom are located. Recently, however, a properly constructed road has been completed and now Beng Mealea is a fairly easy half hour drive from Siem Reap, the town nearest to the Angkor temples.

Beng Mealea Temple
Beng Mealea Temple

Beng Mealea is special because it’s one of the Angkor temples. This temple has been left to be reclaimed by nature, unlike most of the other temples which were restored by the French in the 1800s after centuries of neglect. Beng Mealea is also impressive despite lying in ruins due to its sheer size – from the 1860 drawing by Louis Delaporte (see below) you can see that it was built in a similar style and size to Angkor Wat itself, which remains to this day the largest religious monument on the planet.

The Indochina Voyages team.

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