04 Jul 2019
The scenic northern section of Phnom Kulen National Park was once the site of ancient city of the Khmer Empire Mahendraparvata, or Mountain of the Great Indra. Today, the long gone city’s splendour lives on in stunning rock carvings depicting Hindu deities.
Hidden in the forest, the 11th century carvings have a wonderful history that attracts archaeological students and tourists curious about the ancient city.
In Hindu-Buddhist belief, people consider mounds, cascades, valleys, storms, rain, thunder and spirits as guardians that look after forests and villages.
Overhanging rocks on mountains are also believed to be a sacred place to have temples or shrines, and though they are rare, carvings and ancient inscriptions of deities in such locations can still be found today.
Among the already discovered carvings is Poeung Komnou, or Poeung Keng Korng, on the northern side of Kulen Mountain. It is located in Ta Siem commune’s Trapaing Toem village in Svay Leu district.
There are several carvings depicting beautiful scenes from the Khmer Empire during the 11th century rule of Harshavarman III, who sat on the throne from 1066-1080AD.
According to research by archaeological student Vong Sam Eng from Phnom Penh’s Royal University of Fine Arts, there are four carvings at Poeung Komnou.
The first one is an oval shaped rock depicting the Hindu God Vishnu sleeping on Adishesha (king of all nagas).