Wednesday, September 15, 2010
massive 17-metre long reclining Buddha of Preah Ang Thom on Phnom Kulen is carved out of solid rock and believed to date from the 11th century, but most likely it was created in the 16th century, when large reclining Buddhas, such as the one at Baphuon, were fashionable. Its location, perched on top of one of a number of giant boulders and home to spectacular views over the forest canopy and surrounding countryside, is reached by concrete steps, which have replaced the more rickety stairs that I encountered on my first visit in 1999. The hand-painted giant carving, surrounded by prayer flags, with a dozen crudely chiselled faces of disciples at its base and hundreds of visitors signatures on its backside, isn't as bright as I remembered it. Though its place as one of Cambodia's revered monuments is sealed and acknowledged by framed photographs that surround it, of royal family members and politicians, who've made the pilgrimage to receive blessings by the monks and laymen who inhabit the shrine. At the foot of the stairs are other sacred shrines containing Buddha's footprint, the revered linga, a dharmachakra wheel and nearby caves, that once housed hermits.
The steps leading up to Preah Ang Thom are lined on both sides by beggars, adults and children, at all times of the day