Phnom Kulen

One thousand lingas carved on the Kbal Spean riverbed

Revered by Cambodians from all walks of life, Phnom Kulen (means Mountain of Lychees in Khmer) is the birthplace of the Khmer civilization. King Jayavarman II chose Phnom Kulen to found the Khmer Empire and declare himself a Chakravarty (King of Kings) in 802 CE. The kings who came after him expanded the empire and built numerous temples and monuments in and around Phnom Kulen.

Phnom Kulen is not a single mountain,  but a landscape covered with hills and hillocks separated by valleys and flatland. This land of exceptional beauty is now a part of Phnom Kulen National Park.

Legend of Mahendrparavata

Phnom Kulen was known as the Mahendraparvata during the Khmer period. In Sanskrit, mahendra means great Indra and parvata means mountain.

According to a local legend, Mahendraparvata is the mountain which Hanuman lifted to the battlefield in Lanka to extract Sanjeevini, a herbal plant that is capable of curing all diseases, to save Lakshmana from dying.


Phom Kulen is located 30 miles northeast of Siem Reap.

Kbal Spean River

The Kbal Spean River is a small river flowing within the Phnom Kulen National Park.  It is a tributary to the Siem Reap River, which flows through the Angkor Wat Archaeological Site in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The Kbal Spean River is known as the Sahasralinga River (River of One Thousand Lingas) because of the hundreds of lingas carved on its sandstone riverbed. Sahasra means a thousand in Sanskrit. The linga is a symbol of Shiva, one of the Hindu Trinity.

As you can see from the images below, the lingas are carved on the riverbed in a grid-like fashion. In addition to the lingas, the river has other sculptures carved on its riverbed and the rocks.

Natural Pool

The natural pool near shown in the image below is located near the Kbal Spean River. The water in this pool is a result of some geological activity occurring beneath the pool. It appears as though there is an underground spring under the pool. A small stream of water flows out of the pool into the Kbal Spean River. The water in the pool is not very hot but appears to contain a lot of minerals.

Freshwater pool near Kbal Spean River in Phnom Kulen National Park, Cambodia
The natural freshwater pool near Kbal Spean River in Phnom Kulen National Park


The image below shows a spectacular view of the waterfall in Phnom Kulen, which is a major tourist attraction,  is visited by Cambodians who come here to dip in the pool at the bottom of the falls to atone their sins.

A Waterfall in Phnom Kulen, Cambodia
A Waterfall in Phnom Kulen, Cambodia

The waterfall shown below is located just above the larger one shown above.

A Waterfall in Phnom Kulen, Cambodia
A Smaller Waterfall in Phnom Kulen, Cambodia

Preah Ang Thom

Preah Ang Thom is a Buddhist monastery situated on a boulder in the Phnom Kulen National Park. It’s famous for the reclining Buddha statue carved out of the boulder.

Copyright © 2018 – 2019 by Lawrence Rodrigues. All rights reserved.


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