Phnom Da is located in Prek Ta Phor village, Kork Thalork commune, Angkor Borei district, about 24 kilometers east of Takeo provincial town by water canal or about 102 kilometers south of Phnom Penh by the road. This part of the country is flooded six months of the year, during the rainy season, and dry the rest of the year.
Phnom Da is a cultural, historical site that has been renovated to provide visitors a place to relax or research Cambodian history. The scenery is beautiful all year. In the rainy season, there is a vast water basin that produces lush, green rice paddies during the dry season.
Phnom Da temple was built on the top of a small hill in 6th century by King Rutravarman, who reigned during the Norkor Phnom period, according to the French historian Mibreno. The temple is 12 meters square and 18 meters high. It was constructed of laterite, brick and sandstone. A Brahman temple, it faces north towards Norkor Kork Thalork, which was the capital of Norkor Phnom at the time the temple was built. There is no rampart.Takeo-1
The temple’s peak is damaged, and a sculpture depicting the story of Churning of the Ocean of Milk has been broken into two parts. A lintel illustrates the figure of sleeping Vishnu. There are false doors on three sides and a real door that opens on the north side.
In the flask of the hill are five man-made caves that reflect the style of Phnom Da, which is similar to India style. In each cave, there is a Shiva lingam and Uma yoni, objects that Brahmans worship. During the Pol Pot regime, between 1975 and 1979, the caves were used as cremation places by the Khmer Rouge.
About 300 meters southwest of the temple is another smaller temple known as Asrom Moha Eysei. Built at the end of the 6th century in Zhenla Period, during the reign of King Pavavarman I, the temple has five windows and two doors. It is 5.5 meters square and 7 meters high, it is built in the Indian style and feathers a double wall of basalt that faces north.
In 1992, a number of clergymen and nuns built a pagoda south of the hill. It is called Phnom Da pagoda.
Nearly three decades of war have left the road from Phnom Chiso to Angkor Borei district in poor condition, during the rainy season, flooding makes it impassable. Nevertheless, the site attracts foreign tourists and many Cambodians interested in researching Cambodian history during the Koh Kork Thlork Period.
After 1979, the Takeo provincial authority constructed a canal. Canal 15, which links Takeo provincial town to Angkor Borei district. This has made access easier since the road between Angkor Borei and Phnom Da is still difficult to travel, especially during the rainy season, when it floods.
Phnom Bayang is located in Por Rorng village, Preah Bat Choan Chum commune, Kirivong district, about 43 kilometers south of Takeo provincial town or about 121 kilometers south of Phnom Penh. From Phnom Penh, take National Road 2 via Bati, Sam Rong, Daun Keo and Trang districts.
Bayang temple was built between AD 615 and 635 King Pavavarman II on the top of Phnom Bayong, a 313 meters high mountain. Its diameter is 13 meters by 9 meters and it is 12 meters high. Constructed of laterite, brick and other stones, it is heavily damaged. Pieces of the temple litter the ground, the roof has collapsed, and the laterite rampart has been damaged.
Bayang temple is a historical site that attracts both foreigners and Cambodians doing research about their ancestors. The road to the mountain, however, is old and difficult to access in the thick forest. The temple is reachable by climbing 390 steps. In addition to Bayang, there are four other temples on the mountain-Preah Kor Temple, North Kanang temple, East Kanang temple and Kampoul Kanang temple. All are for Brahman worship and contain a Silva lingam.
Visitors to the site will come to understand how Cambodian history and culture was influenced by the outside world. Because without access to the mountain, however, the only people who will visit the site are researchers studying Cambodian history.
In Kirivong District, there is a stream, Pha Oak, which flows 1,000 meters from its source to where people congregate to swim or bathe. The stream is 6 meters wide during the rainy season and 2 meters wide during the dry season. The sound of the water falling from the mountaintop is almost musical, and the scenery is beautiful.Takeo-3
Neang Khmao Temple
Neang Khmao temple is located in Rovieng commune, Samrong district, off National Road 2, about 27 kilometers north of Takeo provincial town or about 52 kilometers south of Phnom Penh. This temple is inside Wat Neang Khmao.
Constructed of sandstone and brick in the style of Koh Ker, the temple was built by King Jayavarman IV (AD 921-914) in the 10th century for the worship of Brahmanism. The site originally consisted of three temples built side by side, however, only two are still standing, and both are heavily damaged.
Phnom Chiso is a historical site located in Sla village, Rovieng commune, Samrong district, about 62 kilometers south of Phnom Penh or 27 kilometers north of Takeo provincial town. To reach the site, take National Road 2 to Bati district and Neang Khmao temple. Turn right at the sign for the site and head down the dirt trial for 5 more kilometers. Phnom Chiso is 130 meter high mountain.
Takeo-2Phnom Chiso temple was built in the early 11th century by King Suryavarman I (AD 1002-1050), who practiced Brahmanism. Constructed of sandstone and other stones, it is 60 meters long and 50 meters wide and sits atop a mountain. The temple is surrounded by two galleries. The first gallery is 60 meters long on each side. The second, smaller gallery is in the middle, where there is the main worship place with two doors and a wooden statue. There are beautiful sculptures on the lintel and the pillars.
Phnom Chiso Pagoda was built in 1917, destroyed by war during the 1970s and rebuilt in 1979. Behind it is a hall celled Thammasaphea, Kot and a worship place. There is an ancient water tank made of concrete.
People usually climb the staircase on the west side of the mountain, which has 390 steps and descend by the south side staircase, which has 408 steps. Another set of stairs in front of the temple links the temple to Sen Chhmos temple. Sen Phouvang temple and Tonle Om, a lake considered sacred by Brahmans and used for washing away sins. A large rock yard nearby about 100 meters long and 80 meters was once the site of several other temples, but only parts of these temple remain standing.
In addition, there is a mountain cave, Vimean Chan, located about 150 meters south of the temple. It is a quiet place for Brahmans or ascetics to meditate. During the Americans’ war with Vietnam, the site was bombed, dislodging several large rocks that block the entrance to the cave today.
Hun Sen Phnom Chiso Agricultural and Tourist site is located in Samrong, Bati and Prey Kabas district. It includes a 513-hectare paddy rice field of dry rice, a 1,386-hectare field of wet rice and three water basins- Thnos Ta Kong, Tuol Lork and Sen Pea Ream.
Phnom Chiso is very popular with visitors, especially during festivals, when it is very crowed. The top of the mountain affords visitors a panoramic view of the Takeo province rice paddies stretching for kilometers.
Tonle Bati is located in Thnal Teaksin village, Krang Thnoung commune, Bati district, about 35 kilometers from Phnom Penh. Tonle Bati is place of worship and features two ancient temples, Ta Prohm and Yeay Peov, and a pagoda, Wat Tonle Bati, which was built in 1576.
Ta Prohm Temple
This temple, adapted from Bayon style, was built during the late 12th and early 13th centuries, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII (AD 1181-1220) as a place of worship for Brahmans and Buddhists.
The temple is 42 meters long, 36 meters wide and 11 meters high. Today the temple body, the gallery, the wall, the gopura and the moat surrounding the temple are heavily damaged. The temple was constructed of brick and laterite and divided into many rooms. The outside wall is decorated with bas-reliefs illustrating the Brahman story about the celestial nymph. Inside the temple are five rooms and a 13th century Buddha statue that faces east.
Yeay Peou Temple
Yeay Peou temple is behind Wat Tonle Bati, about 100 meters from Ta Prohm temple. Constructed of sandstone in the 12th century, it is 7 meters squares and faces east.
Apart from the temple is a house on the bank of Tonle Bati, about 200 meters from the temple, that once was used by the royal family during holidays. Today this place houses the offices of the Bati Tourism Company, which controls the 9.3-hectare site. The company has erected 58 resting cottages with zinc roofs and another 40 cottages with leaf roofs along the riverside. The company has also built nine restrooms, and other restrooms are available at local people’s residences.
In addition, there is also a natural lake that is 7,000 meters long. During the dry season, the lake is 1,000 meters wide and 1 to 2.5 meters deep. During the rainy season, it swells to 1,500 meters wide and is about 4 meters deep.
There is a fee to enter the site. The cost for Cambodians is 1,000 riel (USD 0.25) for motorbikes and 2,000 riel (USD 0.50) for cars. The fee for the resting cottages is 5,000 riel (USD 1.25) per cottages. Foreigners are charged USD 2 per person. Food is can be purchased at the side.
The site is very popular, attracting 500 to 600 Cambodians and 100 foreign visitors per week. During holidays and festivals, the number of visitors can reach 9,000 per week. The site also provides employment opportunities and a good living for the people of the nearly Thnal Teaksin and Tonle Bati villages.
Phnom Tamao is located in Tropiang Sap village, Tropiang Sap commune, Bati district, about 40 kilometers south of Phnom Penh, off National Road 2. Turn right at the sign and travel another 5 kilometers down a dirt trail. The site features mountain, the biggest national zoo and ancient temples. There are five mountain at the site-Phnom Tamao, Phnom Thma Dos, Phnom Pdaov Pun, Phnom Chhoy and Phnom Bang. The entire site covers 2,500 hectares, most of it is the protected forest area. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Foresty has taken over 1,200 hectares for planting trees and the zoo.
Phnom Tamao National Zoo covers 70 hectares and is under the supervision of the department. It features 84 varieties of birds, quadrupeds and reptiles. The animals, which include alligators, elephants, lions, tigers, and bears, were collected by the Ministry of Agriculture. Some were recovered from people illegally trafficking wildlife in Cambodia.
The two ancient temples of Phnom Tamao are:
Tamao Temple (Phnom Tamao)
Tamao temple was built in 11th century, during the reign of King Suryavarman I and Udayadityavarman II (AD 1050-1066) as a place for Brahmans to worship. Tamao temple was made of silt stone and red solid brick, but is now nearly unrecognizable. The temple is located near Tamao pagoda on the top of Phnom Tamao, which is about 30 meters high.
Thma Dos Temple (Phnom Thma Dos)
Thma Dos temple is northwest of Phnom Tamao on the 35-meter-high Phnom Thma Dos. The temple was built in the 11th century and is constructed of slit stone and red solid brick. Much of the temple is heavily damaged. Thma Dos temple is 7.5 meters square and 13 meters high. Its design is adapted from Khliang style. This temple is more popular with visitors than Tamao temple.
Chub Pul Temple
Chub Pul temple is located in Baray village, Baray commune, Daun Keo district, about 3 kilometers northwest of Takeo provincial town. There are several points of interest at this site, including Chub Pul temple, moat and Tonle Om Baray. Chub Pul temple is 7 meters square and 13 meters high. It was constructed of brick, but much of the temple is now in ruins. Surrounding the temple is a clear water moat, 150 meters long and 130 meters wide. Nearby is a pond called Tonle Om, which is 100 meters wide. The lake and pond are an indication of the importance Cambodia ancestors placed on agriculture.
Wat Phnom Khliang
Wat Phnom Khliang, a Buddhism pagoda built in 1753, is a natural cultural site located in Prey Slek commune, Trang district, about 12 kilometers south of Takeo provincial town near National Road 2. It is a popular place for taking oaths and praying. During the Khmer Rouge regime it was used as a hospital. The red gravel at the foot of the mountain was dug to repair and construct a nearby trail. The entire site covers 11 hectares; Phnom Khliang is in the middle. The hill is 30 meters high, and at the top is a new pagoda built in 1992 sponsored by Prime Minister Hun Sen.
The site attracts mostly local visitors who are superstitious and who are looking for a nice place to relax. At the top of the mountain is a granite stone from which water flows all year. Local people believe that the stone is magical.
In Takeo province there is a museum in Angkor Borei district that opened recently. Sponsored by the European Union, the museum houses and displays copies of statues from the Phnom Da period in the 6th century that are housed in the National Museum of Phnom Penh.
Takeo, the oldest of Cambodia’s 24 province, is one of the most developed provinces in Cambodia. It is rich in history relating to the Nokor Phnom Period and the Zhenla Empire. The tourism industry here is developing rapidly and playing a key role in the changing face of the province.
All told, there are 34 ancient temples that are the heritage and soul of the Khmer, making the province a popular destination for tourists. Among the temples in Takeo province, parts of six are still standing. They include:
Phnom Da temple: built in 6th century in Angkor Borei district,
Bayang temple: built in 7th century atop of Phnom Bayang in Kirivong district,
Neang Khmao temple: built in 10th century in Samrong district,
Phnom Chiso temple: built in 11th century at the top of Phnom Chiso in Samrong district,
Phnom Tamao temple: built in 11th century in Bati district and
Bati temple: built in the late 12th century and early 13th century in Bati District.