Temple Watch: Dark past of Battambang

Temple Watch: Dark past of Battambang

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With Route 6 via Sisophon completed, travelling to Battambang from Siem Reap is much easier. The temples in Battambang are not as impressive as those at Angkor, but the locations certainly are. The hill temples of Wat Banam and Phnom Sampeu are in marvellous locations. Impressively situated on a steep limestone ridge, 12th century Phnom Banam has several well-preserved towers and gives beguiling views of steep green limestone hills, with the mountains of Pailin beyond. Phnom Sampaeu (pictured above) is of no great antiquity but is in a stunning hilltop location. It's colourful now but has a dark past. Some buildings were used as a Khmer Rouge prison, and victims were killed and flung down the deep caverns. Steps lead down to a small shrine in the base of the largest cave, which has a small shrine containing bones and skulls. South of the city, 11th century Ek Phom is in a flat area by the Sangkar River. It's a dilapidated mess from a distance, but within the walls are impressive carvings and reliefs. The adjoining pagoda has some nice paintings and an enormous white-painted Buddha statue that is partially complete.

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