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Phnom Bakheng

Angkor, Cambodia

Sunset Temple

Perched atop a natural hill rising sixty meters high, Phnom Bakheng dominates the Angkor landscape as one of the first major temples built in the ancient capital. Constructed late in the 9th century during the reign of Yasovarman I, this Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva features five tiers representing the cosmic Mount Meru. According to local lore, the temple was built on the site of a sacred hill where a Buddhist temple once stood. Hindu priests advised demolishing the old temple and dedicating the holy hill to Shiva. Further legend tells of a giant serpent with nine heads living in tunnels under Phnom Bakheng, emerging only at night to feed on animals.

Today, Phnom Bakheng has fallen into ruin, but its hilltop location makes it a popular spot for viewing the sunset over Angkor Wat and the sprawling temple complex below. While the summit gets crowded at dusk, sunrise offers a quieter glimpse of the extensive landscape. Wandering the ancient terraces provides insight into the early Angkor Empire and the beginnings of Angkor as a religious capital and temple city. In many ways, Phnom Bakheng stands as the symbolic foundation of Angkor’s ascendance.


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Situated atop a natural hill in the Angkor Archaeological Park, directly south of Angkor Thom


Constructed late in the 9th century, during reign of Yasovarman I


Served as a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, built as one of the first major temples of the Angkor empire


In ruined state, but remains a popular sunset viewpoint due to its hilltop location overlooking the sprawling jungle and Angkor Wat


Phnom Bakheng

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Sunset Temple


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