Kbal Spean Overview
Kbal Spean, also known as the "River of a Thousand Lingas," is a sacred site located in Cambodia's Siem Reap Province. It is a series of carvings and sculptures located in a lush, forested area near the Kulen Mountains.
The site features numerous carvings of Hindu deities and symbols, including lingas (phallic symbols that represent the Hindu deity Shiva), as well as images of Hindu gods and goddesses. The carvings were created by Hindu devotees in the 11th and 12th centuries and are believed to have been used for religious rituals and offerings.
The carvings are located along a rocky riverbed and are surrounded by lush vegetation, making for a peaceful and serene setting. Visitors to Kbal Spean can hike to the site and admire the intricate carvings and sculptures, which are considered some of the finest examples of Angkorian art and architecture.
In addition to its religious and cultural significance, Kbal Spean is also known for its natural beauty and is considered an important wildlife habitat. The site is surrounded by dense forest and is home to a variety of animals, including monkeys, birds, and reptiles.
Today, Kbal Spean is a popular tourist destination, attracting visitors who are interested in the country's rich cultural heritage and its stunning natural scenery.
From the parking lot, it takes 30 minutes to 1 hour depending on the person, but it is necessary to climb a mountain road that is quite tight in hot weather. There are swarms of ants on the way, so be careful not to step on them.
Our experience in Kbal Spean
According to the map of Kubal Spean in the guidebook I took with me, there should be a wooden bridge over the stream, but it is not there. And the woman in charge stopped me saying, "There's nothing there." They also serve as guides, so I decided to ask them to guide me. As a result, we were able to see reliefs that were not easy to find on our own, which was the correct answer.
The photo below is the first sculpture anyone who climbs the mountain trail will see. It is said that the scene on the left is Vishnu, and in the center is Shiva and his wife Uma riding the sacred bull Nandin to get married. Click to view larger image. There is a little less than 7 mega.
Upstream from this there are many lingams in the river. It seems that something else is also carved, but it is not clear.
A little further upstream, the god Brahma lies on the river bank. There are no more ruins further upstream.
If you go down, there is another sculpture right near the first photo. This is like Lord Vishnu riding the serpent Ananda. Brahma on the lotus flower. Is the goddess whose face has disappeared Lakshmi?
After going down for a while, there is another sculpture with the same theme as the photo above. It's a little hard to find, and it's badly weathered, so it might be hard to find. I wouldn't have known if the guide didn't tell me.
Nearby is another statue with the same motif.
A little downstream there is a lingam all over the riverbed.
A little below that, on the rock on the opposite bank, there is a scene of Lord Shiva and his wife Uma riding the sacred bull Nandin to get married.
Sometimes there are carvings not only along the river but also on the large rocks on the mountain side. On the rock in the photo below, in addition to the small reliefs on the left and right, a crocodile like the one on the right was carved on the top. I don't know if the guide doesn't teach me this either.
The three photos below were taken on rocks on the mountain side. It's not even in the guidebook. If the guide doesn't tell you, you probably won't find it. By the way, it seems that the middle is a monkey.
Kbal Spean tours
There are many tours available from Siem Reap to visit Kbal Spean. Most of them also visit Banteay Srei temple to make it a one-day tour.