Beng Mealea – A Sprawling Temple Complex Overrun By Jungle, Offering A Mysterious Feel

Beng Mealea visiting during cambodia tours (4)

Embark on an unforgettable Cambodia tour to Beng Mealea, where history and nature intertwine in a mesmerizing spectacle. Hidden amidst the dense Cambodian jungle, Beng Mealea stands as a testament to the ancient Khmer civilization, its sprawling temple complex engulfed by the lush greenery. This enigmatic site offers a unique glimpse into the past, with moss-covered stones and intricate carvings hinting at a bygone era shrouded in mystery.

An Overview of Beng Mealea Temple

Beng Mealea Temple, located in the Siem Reap province of Cambodia, is a sprawling archaeological site steeped in history and mystery. Dating back to the 12th century, this ancient temple complex is characterized by its sprawling layout and intricate architecture, reminiscent of the more famous Angkor Wat. 

However, unlike its well-preserved counterparts, Beng Mealea lies largely in ruins, with its moss-covered stones and collapsed passageways giving it an aura of ancient grandeur reclaimed by nature. 

Despite its dilapidated state, the temple’s sheer scale and intricate carvings offer a glimpse into the architectural prowess of the Khmer Empire, leaving visitors awestruck by its beauty and historical significance. As one of Cambodia’s hidden gems, Beng Mealea continues to intrigue and inspire adventurers and history enthusiasts alike, inviting them to unravel its secrets amidst the dense foliage of the Cambodian jungle.

Beng Mealea visiting during cambodia tours (3)

Historical background of Beng Mealea 

Beng Mealea Temple, situated in the northwestern part of Cambodia’s Siem Reap province, bears witness to the rich historical legacy of the Khmer Empire. Believed to have been built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, Beng Mealea is contemporary with the more famous Angkor Wat, though its exact purpose and significance remain subjects of scholarly debate. 

The temple’s name, which translates to “Lotus Pond” in Khmer, likely refers to the moat that surrounds it, adding to its mystique. Constructed in the architectural style of the Angkor period, Beng Mealea boasts a sprawling layout, comprising multiple courtyards, galleries, and towers, all adorned with intricate carvings and bas-reliefs. 

Despite its initial grandeur, Beng Mealea fell into disrepair over the centuries, succumbing to the relentless encroachment of nature. Today, the temple’s overgrown ruins stand as a testament to its former glory, offering a glimpse into Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage and the architectural achievements of its past civilizations.

Historical background of Beng Mealea 

Unique features of Beng Mealea Temple 

Beng Mealea Temple is renowned for its unique architectural features and distinct characteristics that set it apart from other temples in the Angkor region. Some of the notable features of Beng Mealea include:

Sprawling Layout: Beng Mealea boasts a vast and sprawling layout, covering an extensive area with multiple courtyards, galleries, and towers interconnected by a network of passageways. This expansive layout gives visitors a sense of exploration and discovery as they navigate through the temple complex.

Encroaching Jungle: One of the most striking features of Beng Mealea is its integration with the surrounding jungle environment. Unlike many other temples in the Angkor region, Beng Mealea has been largely reclaimed by nature, with towering trees, tangled vines, and moss-covered stones enveloping the temple complex. This unique setting adds to the temple’s mysterious and atmospheric ambiance.

Unique features of Beng Mealea Temple 

Dilapidated Ruins: Beng Mealea is characterized by its dilapidated ruins, with collapsed walls, toppled pillars, and scattered stones strewn throughout the site. Despite its state of disrepair, the temple’s weathered facades and crumbling structures lend it a sense of ancient grandeur and authenticity, offering visitors a glimpse into its storied past.

Intricate Carvings: Despite its state of decay, Beng Mealea still features intricate carvings and bas-reliefs depicting various mythological and religious scenes. Visitors can admire these finely detailed carvings, which adorn the temple’s walls, lintels, and doorways, showcasing the artistic craftsmanship of the Khmer Empire.

Lotus Pond: The temple’s name, Beng Mealea, translates to “Lotus Pond” in Khmer, a reference to the moat that surrounds the temple complex. This symbolic feature adds to the temple’s mystique and beauty, providing a serene backdrop for visitors to explore and appreciate.

Lotus Pond in Beng Mealea visiting during cambodia tours

Practical tips and advice for visitors planning to explore Beng Mealea

Transportation options

Beng Mealea is located approximately 40 kilometers east of Siem Reap in Cambodia. Visitors have several transportation options to reach the temple:

Private Car or Tuk-Tuk: Renting a private car or hiring a tuk-tuk driver is the most convenient option. Negotiate with drivers in Siem Reap for a round-trip fare, and ensure they wait for you while you explore the temple.

Guided Tours: Joining a guided tour is another option, providing transportation, guided commentary, and sometimes meals. Many tour operators in Siem Reap offer day trips to Beng Mealea as part of their itinerary.

Beng Mealea visiting during cambodia tours (5)

Entrance fees

The entrance fee to Beng Mealea is approximately $5 to $10 USD per person for foreign tourists.

Visiting time 

You can visit Beng Mealea at any time of day.

In conclusion, a Cambodia trip would be incomplete without a visit to the awe-inspiring Beng Mealea temple complex. As one of Cambodia’s hidden treasures, Beng Mealea’s mystical allure, sprawling ruins, and jungle-clad surroundings offer a captivating glimpse into the ancient Khmer civilization. Exploring its labyrinthine corridors and moss-covered passageways is a journey back in time, where history and nature intertwine to create a truly mesmerizing experience.