Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Peung Tbal's petroglyphs

A view of the main rock carvings or petroglyphs at Peung Tbal
A multi-armed Vishnu stands tall at Peung Tbal
Phnom Kulen lies about 50kms from Siem Reap and is the most sacred mountain in all of Cambodia. It receives hordes of Khmers at weekends and holidays and the reason lies in the fact that the Angkor dynasty was declared here in 802 by Jayavarman II, giving rise to modern-day Cambodia. On top of the Kulen plateau and dotted around its base, especially on the eastern lip, are a series of rock-shelters where the ancient Khmers produced their own rock carvings, or petroglyphs, to demonstrate their faith in the Hindu gods. One such rock-shelter to be found on top of Phnom Kulen is Peung Tbal (aka (Poeng Tbal), a few kilometres from the tiny hamlet of Anlong Thom. There is no road or track to Peung Tbal, you have to walk across what resembles lava beds to reach the forested natural shelter, where on at least two surfaces of the sandstone outcrop you can see Hindu deities, rishis, Shiva and Uma and a multi-armed Vishnu carved onto the rock, as well as a very large pedestal but with its linga missing. There is also a circular rock that resembles a wheel (Tbal) which gives the site its name and naga figures amongst others are carved in bas-relief on its side. All in all a very unusual site and one which I first visited a decade ago on one of my pioneering adventurous trips onto the top of Kulen. There are other equally intriguing cave shelters like this on and around Kulen, especially one at Peung Komnou near Svay Leu which I have yet to visit.
Rishis (wise men) sat cross-legged with female figures alongside
This looks like a rendition of Shiva and Uma on their mount
Mao stands between the two sections of carved rock. The rounded stone to his right is the wheel (Tbal).
A large pedestal has been cleaned up and placed on display, minus its linga
More figures, completely covered by green lichen, above the wheel rock
My motodop guide Mao stands next to some of the petroglyphs at Peung Tbal
The entrance to the sheltered caves at Peung TbalThe lava-beds that you walk across to reach Peung Tbal

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Blogger rjhintz said...

Hi, do you happen to have the GPS coordinates of Peung Tbal, Anlong Thom, and, possibly, the track from Anlong Thom to Peung Tbal?

If so, any chance of putting the track on Wikiloc with Anlong Thom and Peung Tbal as waypoints?

September 15, 2010 at 10:53 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

Hi Richard,
sorry but I don't carry a GPS with me. The only suggestion I have is to contact the motodops on top of Kulen and especially someone like Mao, who knows the place like the back of his hand. There's a lot to see on Kulen that few people have ever bothered with (or know about) and I've only scratched the surface on previous visits.

September 15, 2010 at 1:27 PM  
Blogger rjhintz said...

Thanks. The Google imagery (Maps and Earth) for this historically important part of Cambodia is pretty low resolution.

Once of the most comprehensive Khmer site photographers, http://www.panoramio.com/user/1549852 , doesn't seem to cover Peung Tbal. Do you have photos on Panoramio?

September 16, 2010 at 3:38 AM  
Blogger Andy Brouwer said...

To be honest I never use Google maps, etc. And I never use Panoramio. I only take photos for my own use on my website or blog.

September 16, 2010 at 12:04 PM  

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