Phnom Banan, Battambang

Quick Facts:

Just over 20 km to the south of Battambang lays Phnom Banan, a beautiful Angkor ruin located at the top of a mountain set behind the road deep within the countryside overlooking several villages. The ruin was set on a scenic countryside along the Sangker River, which is always the highlight of each tour.Though compared to Angkor Wat, Phnom Banan isn't as impressive; it best kept the remains of Khmer in the area. That's why Phnom Banan is one of the two popularly visited Angkor area ruins.

Combining the sophisticated architecture of mid11th century and the end of 12th century the temple was first built by king, UtTak Yea Tit TyaVarman II (1050-1066) and finally completed by the king, Jarvarman VII (1181-1219). The temple is magnificently located on the top of approximate 400-meter heighten mountain at KonTey 2 commune, Ba Nan District in 25-kilometer distance from the provincial town by the provincial Road No 155 parallel to Sang Ke River. At the mountain's valley, there are Ku Teuk and two main natural wells, namely: Bit Meas and Chhung or ChhungAchey.

Although Phnom Banan has been heavily looted but remains upright. The impressive and superb views of the surrounds in all directions is definitely worth a look. From the mountaintop temple, visitors can easily get striking view of a winding Sangker River set amidst sugar palm trees, endless rice fields and small villages. Whilst, to the south of the temple is a picturesque mountain range featuring a giant crocodile. In fact, the temple itself is so beautiful seen both from the ground and the top. As with PreahVihear Temple (close to the Thai border in the province of the same name), there are a couple of big guns on the mountaintop next to the ruins. The guns are still pointing down at the surrounding area as they were during the more recent years of the government-Khmer Rouge skirmishes.It's a part of the sad irony of Cambodia that a place built for worship, harmony and tranquility was utilized as a place for making war. Looking down the hillside to the southwest you can see more of the ruins. As always, if you go looking around, there may still be undiscovered landmines.

The old temple consists of 5 towers like Angkor with the middle being the largest and is accessed from an original staircase that covers the 105 meter climb. The structures appear to be not damaged but unfortunately, they also have been massively looted like most other Khmer ruins. Generally, the remaining towers and naga, apsara carvings, mainly on the lintels all luckily are in excellent condition.

Tourists can reach Phnom Banan by just following Street No 1 just around 20km or you can also take a direct way from Phnom Sampeu on a small trail through picturesque countryside to approach the site.

It is a fact that the temple is modest and the design seems familiar to anyone that's visited the temples of Angkor at Siem Reap however the chance of witnessing a temple without crowds makes this outlying temple worth visiting. Tourists will not only get insight in the sophisticated architecture of Cambodian but get unique views across Battambang province and the magnificent view from the summit as well.

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