Phnom Da Temple
Phnom Da Temple – The original home of Harikampujendra
Phnom Da Temple is a cultural, historical site which its visitors are mainly having purpose on studying about the history of Cambodia, especially the pre-Angkorian style of art work. Phnom Da temple located in Angkor Borei district (the ancient name was Nokor Borei), Takeo Province, which was the pre-Angkorian Khmer capital during Funan or Nokor Phnom period (from 1st to 6th century) ruled by king Rudravarman.
How to Access Phnom Da Temple?
We can access Phnom Da Temple by road and by boat. If we go by boat, we must arrived Takeo provincial town and take the boat on canal 15 for 27 km. There are always boats for rent to visitors.
If we go by road, we will have to take off from national road 2 at Phnom Chiso (60km from Phnom Penh) and passing Angkor Borei town. This part of road is a bit difficult to travel with many big holes. However, from Angkor Borei to Phnom Da the road is better. The total distance from Phnom Chiso to Phnom Da is 41 km. Visitors can combine one day trip to both Phnom Chiso Temple and Phnom Da Temple.
From far away, we can clearly see a temple is top on a hill. It’s Phnom Da Temple, the temple of 11th century during the reign of King Suryavarman I (1002-1049). This temple was built on the base of the old 6th century temple in the reign of Rudravarman, the last king of Nokor Phnom or Funan period.
We climb to top of mountain to the temple through two stages of stair. Along the way there are five man-made caves, they were probably used as shelters for meditating hermits or for installing Shiva lingam to worship.
Phnom Da Temple is square in plan, each side measured 12m and 18m high. The base is of sandstone and the walls are of laterite. It’s a single tower temple, however, the peak of tower has been destroyed during the war. There are also sculpture of Churning of the Ocean of Milk and the lintel of Reclining Vishnu, but they are also damaged. Despite of common Hindu Temples in Cambodia, Phnom Da Temple has its main door faces north, other three sides are false doors. The Temple faces north is to face the capital city of Nokor Phnom, Nokor Borei. Phnom Da Temple is built to dedicated to Vishnu. Harikampujendra, the biggest Vishnu statue (3.4 m high) in Cambodia was taken from Phnom Da Temple. Currently the statue is kept in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
Asrom Moha Eysei
Another small hill locates to southwest of Phnom Da Temple about 300m, is also top with a small temple called Asrom Moha Eysei or Asrom Moha Ruesey. It’s a temple made of basalt built in 6th century in the reign of king Bhavavarman I. The temple is obviously non Angkorian temple, the art style is similar to Java and Indian style. It’s 7m high and 5.5 m square and also faces north. It dedicated to Shiva and was functioning as a worship place for people in that time. The temple is two tiers of walls, the outer and the inner. Between them, there is a passage that allows us to walk around the temple. Inside the temple, there is a Shiva lingam and Uma yoni for ceremonial practicing. There are also two containers at the front door for receiving water flow out from the lingam.
Beside the two temples as we can see today, in the area there might be many other temples, probably made of wood. Because there are many great sculptures were discovery by digging in the area and have been brought to keep in the National Museum. The remarkable sculptures are Krishna, Rama, Balarama, these are from the late 6th to early 7th century, indicated the earliest Brahmanic style in Khmer sanctuary.