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|Date:||Mid 12th century CE|
|King:||Dharanindravarman II (reign 1150 – 1156 CE)|
|Cult:||Hindu (Vishnuite) and Mahayana Buddhist|
Beng Mealea Temple (or Prasat Beng Mealea, Khmer: ប្រាសាទបេងមាលា) is a fascinating temple, its piles of stones and trees growing on the structures offer an authentic 'ancient temple lost in the jungle' experience.
Beng Mealea is 40 kilometers (25 miles) due east of the core group of temples around Angkor Thom (77 kilometers / 48 miles by road), taking approximately 1.5 hours to reach by tuk-tuk. The drive is half the experience, the road passes through beautiful rice fields with traditional Cambodian elevated farmhouses designed to survive the rainy season. The activity alongside the road affords an authentic look into life outside the more developed area of Siem Reap.
Beng Mealea is one of the largest temples of the Angkor period. Its dimensions are similar to Angkor Wat Temple, which was built around the same time, but it has no central pyramid. It is widely believed that this temple acted as the ‘blueprint’ for Angkor. Most of the Buddhist temples built under Jayavarman VII – Preah Khan Temple, Banteay Kdei Temple, Ta Som Temple and Ta Prohm Temple – were modelled after this complex.
A wooden causeway has been built to facilitate access to the sanctuary area, but you can also venture 'off-piste', exploring away on your own to climb over stones and walk along the tops of building frames.