Kbal Spean (River Of The 1000 Lingas)
Beautiful carvings remain in the rocks of the riverbed and here you have an opportunity to bathe in the sacred waters.
Kbal Spean (River Of The 1000 Lingas) is found on Kulen Mountain and if you like some exercise plus a bit of a challenge – Kbal Spean might be a great place for you to visit.
Mount Kulen has played a significant role in the history of the birth of the Khmer empire and according to local people – this mountain is believed to hold spiritual energies.
It was here that King Jayavarma II proclaimed independence from Java in 804 CE and a new, independent city grew as the Khmer empire flourished into one of the most powerful civilizations in Asia, trading with both China and Indonesia.
Kulen Mountain has great religious significance in both the Hindu and Buddhist religion – and is located about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Siem Reap, which takes approximately 2 hours by tuk tuk.
Kbal Spean (River Of The 1000 Lingas) is on the southwest slopes of the Kulen Hills and is considered a significant ancient archaeological site.
It is approximately a 2-kilometer walk to reach the area as you hike along a track that is flanked with Cambodian rain forest.
The area was rediscovered in 1969 by French Researcher Jean Boulbet, who was said to have been shown the site by a local hermit, which he had met while trying to rediscover the area.
Kbal Spean (River Of The 1000 Lingas) is an amazing display of over 1,000 carvings found in the sandstone rocks lining the bank and underneath the water’s surface.
It was thought to be constructed in the 11th century by Udayadityavarman II and is an amazing engineering feat. In order to construct this site, it is believed that a huge effort of diverting the river was needed. This was so that the stone bed could be carved and would have been a big undertaking, even by today’s standards.
The waters of this area are regarded as holy to both the Hindu and Buddhist religion because, during the history of Cambodia, the country changed religions in the 12th century.
It is believe that Jayavarman II himself bathed in this sacred river and given the stature that this mighty king holds – Kbal Spean has become a place of reverence. The waters are considered as holy by local people, while some bottle it up to take it home with them – thought to bring them health and luck.
There are hundreds of Hindu mythological carvings including depictions of the gods Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma, Lakshmi and more as well as animals and the area is surrounded by Cambodian forest which only adds to the atmosphere.
The river ends with a waterfall and it is here that you can take a refreshing swim – because of the religious significance of these waters, they are believed to contain curative properties.
While you are on Kulen Mountain Reclining Buddha is near by, which is an 8-meter shrine and carved into a slab of rock.
COST: $20.00 (to enter Kulen Mountain)
It is only possible to get up the road before 11 am and down again after midday to avoid vehicles meeting on the narrow road.
Best time to visit is between July – December when the river is flowing.
Admission Time: 7.30am – 5.30pm (It is approximately a 30 – 45-minute walk through Cambodian jungle and access to the trail is not permitted after 3.30pm)
Food and drink are available at the base of the trail only.
Do not forget to take enough water and bug spray for the trip up.