Constructed in the late 9th - early 10th century AD by The King Yasovarman I, Phnom Bakheng Temple is a sacred shrine mountain on Bakheng Hill. Its prominent features to distinguish from other structures in the Angkor complex is that the base of Bakheng was carved directly from the rock of mountain instead of laterite and earthfill of almost all other temples. After climbing a long steep path,travelers can admiresunset of the famous Angkor Wat temple and the panorama ofTonle Sap Lake from Bakheng'shilltop.
Bakheng Hillis located between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom and used to be the center of the first Khmer kingdom of Angkor. Bakheng Temple was built under the reign of Yasovarman I to worship Shiva. However, it was once abandoned in 928 and until 968 restored by Jayavarman V. Thus, in terms of history, King Jayavaraman V plays a very important role in the consolidation, reconstruction and refurbishment of the temple.
Phnom Bakheng hasa special importance although many tower clusters have been degraded. It is a symbol of the sacred mountain Meru in Hindu legend as well as the first main temple built in the Angkor architectural ensemble, marking the conversion the capital from Rolus (about 13 km from Siem Reap to the southeast) to Angkor at the end of 9th century A.D; therefore, sometimes it is known as “the first Angkor”.The entire work is surrounded by a range of land wall forming a square, each side has the length of 4 km.Bakheng Temple is located in the center of the hill and very isolating, including 108 shrine tower symbolizing four lunar cycle, in which the pyramidal central tower is believed to contain the linga. Moreover, there are traces of the wells that history has recorded the existence of more than 800 wells to provide water for the whole ancient capital.
The road to Temple is hard to climb and is a really difficult obstacle for visitors, but for many people it is a really interesting experience and they hardly get the second time in their life. The steep path nearly 70 degrees along with wild plants and covered jungle make the conquest of this temple not for tourists who are scared of heights. You will need good shoes and a walking stick to climb safer. Because Bakheng Hill provides a stunning sight to watch the sunset of Angkor Wat, the temple is always overcrowded at sunset. That is one of the reasons this monument is destroyed and more severely damaged. Travelers should be careful when visiting the temple at this time, especially for the family having children. You can choose Elephant Rideservice to move easier from about 4:00PM till sunset with $15/person to up and $10/ person to down. Once up to the top of the hill, you will certainly not regret this trip because spectacular natural scenery and the feeling of conquering a big challenge.