Beng Mealea – the mystery of the ancient temple hidden deep in the forest in Cambodia

Beng Mealea – the mystery of the ancient temple hidden deep in the forest in Cambodia

Cambodia has been known as the home of sacred temples; therefore, tourist destinations here are mainly temples. The unique cultural works with ingenious carvings have created a special attraction to visitors. Together with cheap Asia tours, we want to bring you to a special world – the ancient world of Beng Mealea temple.

About Beng Mealea temple

Beng Mealea – the mystery of the ancient temple hidden deep in the forest in Cambodia

Beng Mealea temple is 70 km northeast of Siem Reap, along Highway No. 6. It is considered a temple built before Angkor temple. Due to being located deeply in the forest and the difficult entrance, Beng Mealea temple has not been known by many tourists. However, it is now easy for tourists to visit Beng Mealea temple because there is a new road which has been built.

Beng Mealea temple has the structure which was the same as Angkor Wat but bigger. Beng Mealea temple in the past was a small city surrounded by trenches. There are 3 layers of the wall. The gate of the citadel has huge stones. There was a 42m tower in the center of the temple but it now is collapsed. The temple consisted of 4 libraries which become ruined nowadays.

When you enter the temple, you will see a coffin lying on the ground and it is known as the coffin of King Suryavarman II. However, there is no corpse there. According to the history books, not only archaeologists but also thieves went to the temple to discover. The thieves took away the treasures and wonderful reliefs on the wall and pushed the coffin from the pedestal to the ground.

It is also supposed that after the death of King Suryavarman II, he was cremated. After that, his ash was brought to Angkor Wat temple. Beng Mealea is only the place worshiping his shadow.

History of Beng Mealea temple

Beng Mealea temple was built in the 12th century of Angkor Dynasty during the reign of King Suryavarman II. At that time, the temple was built together with Angkor Wat; therefore, the structure of Beng Mealea is quite same with Angkor Wat.

King Suryavarman II was dubbed "the invincible king", during his reign, he expanded his territory: from the north to northern Laos, from the south to the Malay Peninsula, and from the west up to Pagan, Myanmar.

In 1145: King Suryavarman II let his army to invade Dai Viet (Vietnam today) in the east. The invasion lasted about 5 years but it still failed.

In 1150: King Suryavarman II led his army to invade Dai Viet for the last time. While they were moving deeper into the forest, King Suryavarman II and some of his soldiers died. After that, he was not seen anymore. No one knew where he was and where he was buried. Since then, his mighty empire had been collapsed.  

Beng Mealea – the mystery of the ancient temple hidden deep in the forest in Cambodia

In 1954: French scientists had some information about a temple like Angkor Wat located deeply in the forest. But they could not enter the temple because there was not an entrance.

In 1965: Western explorers who came to this forest discovered and found out the temple called Beng Mealea. The information of old documents and the information on stonework in the temple told that this was the burial ground of King Suryavarman II and his treasures. The temple was abandoned during the internal war and the war with neighboring countries. Consequently, the temple had been known for a long time.

After 1965: Cambodia was still in the war, so the discovery of the Beng Mealea temple had not yet been completed, and the temple continued to be abandoned. During the war period, the temple was affected a lot and it was heavily damaged.

In 2003: The Cambodian government had explored a pathway to Beng Mealea Temple for research and restoration so that visitors have had a chance to visit the temple up to now.

Discovering the mystery of Beng Mealea temple

Today, the temple has been gradually recovered, which gives tourists have a chance to visit this place. The way to Beng Mealea temple is far and difficult but it attracts tourists a lot because it is considered the second version of Angkor Wat and it is still the glorious relic of a prosperous dynasty.

Beng Mealea – the mystery of the ancient temple hidden deep in the forest in Cambodia

The temple is not splendid, old, and mossy; however, it is an interesting destination for those who like exploration and history. When coming here, tourists will have the opportunity to admire the unique architecture and know well about the culture of this beloved country – Cambodia.

If you are attending to visit Beng Mealea, do not forget to book a Cambodia tour package to get more information. We hope that the post will provide you with some useful information about this must-visit destination. We will be very happy to become your partner on the trip to beloved Cambodia in the near future. Have a nice trip!