Phnom Bok, Phnom Krom, floating village of Chong Khneas at Tonle Sap Lake

On the third day, the visit of the two temples and the great Tonle Sap Lake will explain why the King Yashovarman moved his capital from Roluos to Yashodharapura. From a geological point of view, the new location had a strong potentiality for economic growth of the kingdom as well as for sanctifying the land, between the Tonle Sap Lake and a small range of hills called Phnom Kulen. The new capital would be nearer to the Lake, the real source of food and many mountains to conduct religious rites. There are three major hill sites in the Siem Reap region: Phnom KromPhnom Bakheng and Phnom Bok, all of which were topped with temple in the late 9th or early 10th century.

Like Phnom Bakheng, the temple of Phnom Bok was also built on the top of a mountain, the central sanctuary was devoted to Shiva, the northern to Vishnu and the southern to Brahma. Three fine heads of the three gods found in the temple’s area are displayed at the Musée Guimet in Paris. From the hilltop (more than 200 meters above sea level), you can contemplate the surrounding rice fields and the eastern baray (known in the ancient time as Yashodharatataka, a vast reservoir built under the reign of Yashovarman). To the west of the temple, there is a platform where a huge linga lies broken. Its diameter is 1.2 meters! It was about 4 meter long before it broke. Take few minutes to admire the beautiful view on countryside.

As in the case at Phnom Bok, three sanctuaries of Phnom Krom temple were to house the deities of the trinity: Shiva in the central, Brahma to the South and Vishnu to the north.

The Tonle Sap, already a large lake during the dry season, gets its surface tripled during the monsoon season. For many Cambodians, it is an “in-land ocean” and a source of livestock. You can hire a boat to enjoy the bio-diversity of the lake and explore its flooded forest, the beautiful floating village of Chong Khneas, its school and floating market and even admire a beautiful sunset on the Tonle Sap.

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