The Temple of Phnom Chisor: Angkor on the doorsteps of Phnom Penh
posted by Sophea
Packed a day bag, a camera, and a couple of friends. And off we were to Phnom Chisor, an 11th century site about 60 km South of Phnom Penh. The bus to Takeo dropped us along the road, and after some friendly haggling with three moto-dups, here we were bumping our way to the foot of Phnom Chisor.
There are (at least) two ways to reach the temple sitting at the top of the phnom (the hill) by foot : the old, high, steep and overgrown Angkorian steps, and the new concrete ones, less charming, but more suited to our small statures and footsteps. It can seem like a long way up in the hot sun, but the hike is worth every step!
The 11th century temple is built around a main hall, in a mix of brick, sandstone and laterite. There are a few beautifully carved lintels (look out for the sleeping Vishnu!). The compact site feels somewhat like a courtyard garden, with the grass and palm trees, the peek-a-boo views through the doors and windows and the colourful new altar in the central hall. Around the ancient temple there is a modern wat, sculptures and buildings. Not forgetting some chatty friendly folk.
And the views over the surrounding countryside are fantastic. Gazing at the perspective down the old steps, I realized how much the temple is part of a much wider picture: its axis leads out into the landscape, through two crumbling gates below. Wow! A great day away from Phnom Penh, worth all the dust in my hair!