Banteay Longvek – Ancient City of Cambodia
Banteay Longvek (បន្ទាយលង្វែក) or Longvek city is an old capital city of Cambodia from 1529 to 1593. It was built in an area of 3km long and 2km wide by the Khmer King Chan Reachea from 1527-1529.
Longvek locates in Kampong Trolach district, Kampong Chhnang province, about 66 km from Phnom Penh. To travel there, we must travel on nation road no. 5, passing historical site Oudong Mountain, which locate about 45km from Phnom Penh, and forwarding for 21km more, Longvek is on the right side.
History Before Longvek City Was Built
Srey Sokunthabot was a Khmer king reigned in 1504-1512 with his younger brother, Chan Reachea, as the crown prince. Both of them were sons of Srey Thomareachea I (1486-1504). During a rebellion from a official of Srey Sokunthabot, Chan Reachea escaped to live in Siem. The rebellion was successful in 1512 and the next king of Khmer empire was Srey Chethathireach or Sdach Korn.
During the period that Chan Reachea was living in Siam, he was a skillful man of hunting elephant, which was a very favorite hobby of Siam king. After three years that his brother was killed (in 1515), Chan Reachea wanted to return to Khmer, but his request was rejected by Siam king. So Chan Reachea tried to think of ways to come back to his country by telling Siam king that there is a huge elephant of about 5m in height, living in the eastern forest of Siam. Heard so, the Siam king wanted the elephant and ordered Chan Reachea immediately go for hunting. To complete his mission, Chan Reachea requested the king for 5000 armies with 100 elephants, weapons, foods, especially military swords. By his burning desire for the 5m high elephant, the Siam king agreed to all the requests of Chan Reachea.
In 1516, Chan Reachea started his elephant-hunting mission in the eastern forest of Siam, in the work of ‘following the elephant trace’, he at last arrived the Khmer border. Before he entering Khmer territory, he sent a letter to Siam king requested for some more foods and armies, but his trick has been revealed and Siam king has ordered his armies to arrest Chan Reachea. Right after knew that his trick to Siam king has been revealed, Chan Reachea hurriedly enter the Khmer border. Arrived in Battambang, he gathered 10,000 armies and led to stay at Pursat.
The returning of Chan Reachea has been informed to Sdach Korn. The first battle between Chan Reachea and Sdach Korn was in Kror Kou (Pursat) led by Chaofa Kav. The civil war extended for 9 years which have killed many Cambodian lives. In the end, Chan Reachea defeated Sdach Korn and crowned king in 1525 at Pursat with his crown name as Borum Reachea III. Later in 1527, the king moved from Pursat and created a new city in Longvek, Kampong Chhnang province.
Longvek was selected to built the city because the place with good condition to protect from enemy. It was surrounded by thick bamboo forest of about 160 meters wide and many big lakes. Longvek was built in a rectangular shape with 3km long and 2km wide. Rumor said that a strong horse could not run around Longvek military camp. Moreover, people believe that there were statues of Preah Ko and Preah Keo, the two brother who were regarded as sacred figures, kept in Longvek. It’s said that many valuables things relate mostly were manual which recorded about war strategy, Khmer cultures, religious rituals, and everything related to tradition of Khmer. But the statues were said to be taken to Siam after Longvek city has been defeated in 1593.
Trolaeng Kaeng Pagoda (វត្តត្រឡែងកែង)
In Longvek area, Borum Reachea III also built one Buddhist pagoda called Trolaeng Kaeng Pogoda as worship place. Nowadays this pagoda is also called ‘Wat Vaing Chas’ meaning ‘Pagoda of the Old Palace’. Inside the main sanctuary, Preah Vihear built a big statue of God named Preah Ang Trolaeng Kaeng. The God was built with four figures standing back to back and facing to the four cardinal direction. During Longvek was defeated by Siam in 1593, the God was taken to Siam, leaving only four fairs of sole. The soles of foot are about one and half meter long, one meter wide. Now in the middle of these soles of foot, built another statue of Preah Ang Trolaeng Kaeng, but in small size. The sacredness of this God has been well known since Longvek period, until today many Cambodians still worship here.