Monday, February 20, 2012

Beng Mealea, again

Beng Mealea, rampant vegetation almost hid the temple during my 1999 visit
I spent an hour of yesterday morning at Beng Mealea temple, located some 40kms east of Angkor and now a popular spot for those who can't get enough of their temples at the main Angkor park. And so it proved yesterday morning, with hordes of Asian tourists causing mini traffic jams on the wooden walkways that have been constructed to aid visiting this gigantic temple. Built in the 12th century and regarded as a blueprint for the same period Angkor Wat, I first went there in 1999, when the temple was still in its natural state and a fabulous discovery experience. To get back some of that magic I avoided the wooden walkways, instead choosing to clamber around the fallen blocks of stone on my own, dipping in and out of the hidden chambers but a word of warning, check your footing as it takes just one slip and you can break a leg. It's great fun but its dangerous too, not to mention hot and sweaty. We were on a timer as we needed to head for Koh Ker but if you plan on visiting Beng Mealea, then give yourself enough time to roam all over the complex and bring a map so you know where you are at all times. The entry fee for the temple is $5.
Beng Mealea, 2012 version, with large sections of the temple reduced to rubble
Multi-headed Nagas in great condition line the causeway
One of the original Nagas that greeted me in 1999
A remarkably well-preserved Naga head
Krishna battling away on a lintel found on the floor outside the outer wall
Beng Mealea's library pictured back in 1999
The library looks similar today, but with less greenery, to when I saw it in 1999
The wooden walkway that runs through the temple makes viewing easy for the Asian visitors
This pediment shows Varuna riding a Naga on the top level, with worshippers and dancers below



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