Phnom Banan in Battambang

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About 22km from Battambang, Phnom Banan is the best preserved of the Khmer temples in Battambang.

>>Preah Palilay Temple

Adapts the architecture of mid 11th century and the end of 12th century the temple was first built by king, Ut Tak Yea Tit Tya Varman II (1050-1066) and then was finally built by the king, Jarvarman VII (1181-1219). The temple is located on the top of approximate 400-meter heighten mountain at Kon Tey 2 commune, Ba Nan District in 22-kilometer distance from the provincial town by the provincial Road No 155 parallel to Sang Ke River. At the mountain’s valley, there are Ku Teuk and two main natural wells, namely: Bit Meas and Chhung or Chhung Achey.

The way leading to the temple

This Angkor-era mountaintop temple is definitely worth a look. At the top are beautiful views of the winding Sangker River set amidst sugar palm trees, rice fields and small villages. To the south you will see a mountain range that features a crocodile shaped mountain. The temple itself is beautiful looking from the ground as well as the top. The structures are pretty much intact, but unfortunately like so many Khmer ruins, they have fallen victim to massive looting. Still, there are some interesting works to see. There are five temple structures, like Angkor, with the middle being the largest. (Use caution around the entrance to the center structure-there is a large hanging block-a headache-in-waiting for some poor soul)

Phnom Banan is the best preserved of the Khmer temples in Battambang

As Preah Vihear Temple (close to the Thai border in the province of the same name), there are a couple of big guns on the mountaintop next to the ruins. The guns are still pointing down at the surrounding area as they were during the more recent years of the government-Khmer Rouge skirmishes.It’s part of the sad irony of Cambodia that a place built for worship, harmony and tranquility was utilized as a place for making war. Looking down the hillside to the southwest you can see more of the ruins. As always, if you go looking around, stay on the worn pathways and trails – there may still be undiscovered landmines.

Some tips

Just over 20km to the south of Battambang, Phnom Banan is the best kept of the remaining Khmer ruins in the area, though again, when compared to Angkor Wat it isn’t so impressive.

Phnom Banan

Dating back to the 11th century, Phnom Banan has been heavily looted but remains mostly upright. What is impressive from here are the superb views of the surrounds in all directions. A large field gun kept at the site once has now been removed. 

It’s a rather steep climb from ground level up to the ruins. Luckily at the top a few industrious drink sellers emerge, who will also be happy to show you around the temple and then the caves below on the left (when looking at the ruins from the stairs). These are well worth exploring, though note the cave entrance is almost at the base of the hill, so be sure you are finished with the ruins before you agree to go down.

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