Phnom Bakheng, known as the first mountain temple constructed in Angkor, is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva. It was built during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910). Phnom Bakheng was at the center of Yasovarman’s new capital – Yasodharapura, built after he moved from Hariharalaya. There is a lot more interesting history about this place (Google for that). Climb to the temple is steep and takes a lot of effort if one is coming here for the sunset view after a long day of touring many Angkor temples. Phnom Bakheng is the most popular sunset point in the Angkor Park and gets very crowded in the evening. The crowd of sunset watchers in the picture below is all that the authorities allow at a time, after which a queue forms at the base of the temple. A few more lucky ones get entry to the temple before it stops at 5.30pm beyond which no one is allowed to go in. It is advisable to reach the spot before 4.30pm to avoid disappointment. (Read about new 2017 restriction on entry of tourists to the temple below). No one had warned me about the possibility of a queue outside the temple. There were many others like me. All we late comers could do was take a round of the ground at the base of the temple. On the way down, there are a couple of spots secured with railings where tourists can stand and watch the sunset. I took the sunset picture (below) at one such spot. Though I did not return entirely empty handed, there was still the disappointment of not having been above to see the temple from inside.
Sunset view from Phnom Bakheng
Limit On The Number of Tourists Allowed On Top of The Temple
In March 2017, authorities have put a limit on the number of tourists on top of the temple to 300 at any point of time. The temple’s ancient structure was getting damaged due to the large number of tourists climbing atop to see the sunset. Other points are also being identified and offered to tourists from where they can view the sunset so that everyone does not need to go up the temple. That means that entry to the temple at sunset time will get even more difficult if you are not there early enough.