Phnom Kulen or Kulen Mountain (Khmer: ភ្នំគូលេន) is a small
isolated mountain massif in Siem Reap Province, Northern Cambodia. Its
highest point is 487 m.
These mountains are located 30 km northwards from Angkor Wat. Its
name means "mountain of the lychees". There is a sacred hilltop site on top of the range and the area was declared
a national park by the government of Cambodia.
Phnom Kulen is widely regarded as the birthplace of the ancient Khmer Empire and is located some 48 km from Siem Reap. Of special religious meaning to
Hindus and Buddhists, it was at Phnom Kulen that King Jayavarma II proclaimed
independence from Java in 802 A.D.
The site is known for its carvings representing fertility and its waters which hold special
significance to Hindus. Just 5 cm under the water's surface over 1000 small carvings are etched into the sandstone
riverbed. The waters are regarded as holy, given that Jayavarman II chose to bathe in the river, and had the river
diverted so that the stone bed could be carved. Carvings include a stone representation of the Hindu god Vishnu
laying on his serpent Ananta, with his wife Lakshmi at his feet. A lotus flower protrudes from his navel bearing
the god Brahma. The river then ends with a waterfall and a pool.
The Khmer Rouge used the location as a final stronghold as their
regime came to an end in 1979. Nearby is Preah Ang Thom, a 16th century Buddhist monastery notable for the giant
reclining Buddha, the country's largest.
Phnom Kulen is located in Svay Leu District about 48 km from the provincial town of Siem Reap
and about 25 km from Prasat Banteay Srey via Charles De Gaulle Road. At Phnom Kulen
there are several attractive places, such as:
Chup Preah (Khmer: ជប់ព្រះ) is the plain spot where having cool water flows and is located at
the mountain’s valley. Next to it, there is a rare big tree of Cham Pa having 0.7 meter diameter and 15-meter
height. At Chup Preah, there is a big Buddhist statue and many other small statues made during 16th century.
Linga 1,000 (Khmer: លឹង្គ១០០០) is located on the mountain, along the Siem Reap River and has a
lot of figures of Yoni and Linga spreading out at the bottom of the river.
Terrace of Sdach Kamlung
Terrace of Sdach Kamlung (Khmer: ព្រះលានស្តេចគំលង់) is a plain terrace having a small ruined
temple made of solid brick at the middle; the study proves that the terrace was covered by lava for hundreds
Preah Ang Thom
Preah Ang Thom (Khmer: ព្រះអង្គធំ) is an 8 meter tall statue of the reclining Buddha reaching
nirvana. The statue is carved into a huge sandstone boulder. Preah Ang Thom is the sacred and worshipping god for
Phnom Kulen. There are also two big trees of Cham Pa (Khmer: ដើមចំប៉ា) at nearby. Besides Preah Ang Thom, there are
Chhok Ruot (Khmer: ឆ័តរួត), footprint of Preah Bat Choan Tuk (Khmer: បាតជើងព្រះបាទជាន់ទុក្ខ), Peung Chhok (Khmer:
ពើងឆ័ត), Peung Ey So (Khmer: ពើងឥសូ) and Peung Ey Sey (Khmer: ពើងឥសី).
There are two main waterfalls in Phnom Kulen (Khmer: ទឹកធ្លាក់ភ្នំគូលេន):
First waterfall: 4-5 meter tall and 20-25 meter wide during the dry and rainy seasons respectfully.
Second waterfall: 15-20 meter tall and 10-15 meter wide during the dry and rainy seasons respectfully.