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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kulen Mountain

Phnom Kulen, Phnom Koulen, Phnum Kulén or Koulen Mountain (Khmer: ភ្នំគូលេន, meaning "Mountain of Lychees") is a mountain range in Siem Reap Province, Northern Cambodia.

Rather than a hill range, Phnom Kulen is an isolated chain of small mountain plateaux of moderate height lying south of the Dângrêk Mountains. The range stretches for about 40 km in a WNW - ESE direction and is located some 48 km north of Siem Reap. Its highest point is 487 m and its height is quite regular, averaging 400 m all along the range.

Geologically Phnom Kulen is formed of sandstone. It was important as a quarry in Angkorian times, the major quarries being located in the southeastern angle of the massif.

There is a sanctuary in the area, Phnom Kulen National Park, straddling the districts of Svay Len and Va Rin. Its purpose is recreational and scientific in order to preserve the natural scenic features of Phnom Kulen mountain, like some famous waterfalls.The park is located about 48 km to the north of the provincial town of Siem Reap. This site was added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List on September 1st, 1992 in the Cultural category.

The Phnom Kulen mountain range is located 30 km northwards from Angkor Wat. Its name means "mountain of the lychees". There is a sacred hilltop site on top of the range.

Phnom Kulen is considered a holy mountain in Cambodia, of special religious significance to Hindus and Buddhists who come to the mountain in pilgrimage.

It also has a major symbolic importance for Cambodians as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire, for it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 802 A.D.

The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special significance to Hindus. Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu laying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.

Near these mountains is Preah Ang Thom, Big Buddha, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant reclining Buddha, the country's largest.

The Samré tribe was formerly living at the edge of Phnom Kulen, quarrying sandstone and transporting it to the royal sites. The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their regime came to an end in 1979.

Chup Preah is a stream flowing into the mountain’s valley. Ku Len Mountain has two waterfalls. The first is between four and five metres high with a diameter of 20 to 25 metres. The second waterfall is 15 to 20 metres high and has a diameter of 10 to 15 metres. These sizes apply to the dry and rainy seasons.

Preah Ang Thom houses a large statue of Buddha. It was built in the 16th century and is eight metres high. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for Ku Len Mountain. There are also two large Cham Pa trees nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, Chhok Ruot, footprints of Preah Bat Choan Tuk, Peung Chhok, Peung Ey So and Peung Ey Sey, can also be seen.

The Linga is along the river of Siem Reap and has a lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.

The Terrace of Sdach Kum Ling has a small brick-built ruined temple in its centre. It was covered by lava for hundreds of years.

Phnom Kulen National Park

Phnom Kulen National Park is a National park in Cambodia. It is located in the Phnom Kulen (Khmer: ភ្នំគូលេន) mountain massif in Siem Reap Province. During Angkorian era the relief was known as Mahendraparvata (the mountain of Great Indra) and was the place where Jayavarman II had himself declared chakravartin (King of Kings), an act which is considered the foundation of Khmer Empire.

Phnom Kulen National Park is located in Svay Leu District about 48 km from the provincial town of Siem Reap and about 25 km from Prasat Banteay Srey via Charles De Gaulle Road. At Phnom Kulen there are several attractive places, such as:

Chup Preah
Chup Preah (Khmer: ជប់ព្រះ) is the plain spot where having cool water flows and is located at the mountain’s valley. Next to it, there is a rare big tree of Cham Pa having 0.7 meter diameter and 15-meter height. At Chup Preah, there is a big Buddhist statue and many other small statues made during 16th century.

Linga 1,000 
Linga 1,000 (Khmer: លឹង្គ១០០០) is located on the mountain, along the Siem Reap River and has a lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.

Terrace of Sdach KamlungTerrace of Sdach Kamlung (Khmer: ព្រះលានស្តេចគំលង់) is a plain terrace having a small ruined temple made of solid brick at the middle; the study proves that the terrace was covered by lava for hundreds years.

Preah Ang Thom
Preah Ang Thom (Khmer: ព្រះអង្គធំ) is an 8 meter tall statue of the reclining Buddha reaching nirvana. The statue is carved into a huge sandstone boulder. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for Phnom Kulen. There are also two big trees of Cham Pa (Khmer: ដើមចំប៉ា) at nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, there are Chhok Ruot (Khmer: ឆ័តរួត), footprint of Preah Bat Choan Tuk (Khmer: បាតជើងព្រះបាទជាន់ទុក្ខ), Peung Chhok (Khmer: ពើងឆ័ត), Peung Ey So (Khmer: ពើងឥសូ) and Peung Ey Sey (Khmer: ពើងឥសី).

Waterfalls 
There are two main waterfalls in Phnom Kulen (Khmer: ទឹកធ្លាក់ភ្នំគូលេន):
-First waterfall: 4-5 meter tall and 20-25 meter wide during the dry and rainy seasons respectfully.
-Second waterfall: 15-20 meter tall and 10-15 meter wide during the dry and rainy seasons respectfully.

Archeological activities
After initial reconnaissances by French scholars, the historical relevance of Phnom Kulen was pointed out by Philippe Stern, who visited it in 1936 and described Rong Chen as the first temple-mountain. In 1973 and 1979 Jean Boulbet and Bruno Dagens published the fundamental archeological inventory and mapping of Phonm Kulen. In 2008 Archaeology & Development Foundation begun Phnom Kulen Program, an archaeological project focused even on sustainable development of local communities.


See also Beyond, Literally, Angkor Wat

Read more on Related Links:
Phnom Kulen
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phnom_Kulen
Phnom Kulen National Park
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phnom_Kulen_National_Park
Phnom Kulen and Kbal Spean Unmasked
http://andybrouwer.co.uk/kbal.html
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