Phnom Chisor is an ancient Khmer hilltop temple, about 60 kilometers south of Phnom Penh. It may not be as grand as Angkor Wat, but it is nicely preserved and offers excellent views of the Takeo Province countryside.
Phnom Chisor was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman I in the 11th century. At first, it was known as Suryagiri which means Mountain of the Sun. Cambodia was predominantly Hindu at the time, so the temple was dedicated to Brahma, the god of creation. Phnom Chisor has been altered several times, but still retains a great deal of its former splendor. The temple has even survived a bombing in 1973 during the 2nd Indochina War. Fortunately, the bomb that fell on the altar stone did not detonate.
As you approach Phnom Chisor, you will notice two ancient but crumbling laterite towers known as Sen Thmol and Sen Ravang as well as a pond known as Tonly Om. All three form a straight line to the entrance of the main temple.
In order to get to the temple, you will have to climb over 400 steps. This may seem a daunting task to some at first, but the nicely preserved ruins and the amazing view of the surrounding plains make the climb to the temple worth the effort.
The main temple lies on a summit at the eastern side of the hilltop. Restoration work by the French reveals an excellent collection of intricate carvings, sturdy brickwork and Khmer inscriptions. Fine carvings of Hindu gods can be seen at the temple’s libraries and towers, with some magnificent sandstone lintels above the doorways. Unique carvings of figures standing on pigs decorate the wooden doors of the main temple. Inside are numerous Buddha statues, decorated with flags and banners. Phnom Chisor is a functioning temple with monk quarters, food stalls and a school so there will always be people around.
Phnom Chisor is a great site to visit if you want to uncover some of the Khmer’s former glory while also straying away from the country’s heavily visited temple sites. In addition, you will also experience authentic rural life in the Cambodian province of Takeo. With Exotissimo’s Takeo Getaway – Phnom Penh day trip, you can discover how Cambodians in Takeo live out their lives by visiting markets and traditional houses. A visit to Phnom Chisor followed by a boat trip along a small river is also in the itinerary. This tour is a great extension to your stay in Phnom Penh in any of our Cambodia tours. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions or would like to tweak or combine any of our tours.
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