If you are able-bodied, a trip to Beng Mealea will afford you the occasion to investigate deeper and really ascent around a very, very old temple mainly devoid of obtrusive signs of restoration. Merely put, visiting Beng Mealea is more of an activity than just a pretty sight to see.

Where’s that?

Beng Mealea temple stands alone about 40 kilometers east of the chief group of Angkor temples. Almost twice as far from town center and most Siem Reap hotels, this hidden gem lies along the antique royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay. The road was principally blocked until recent renovations. Now the hour-long trek is chiefly paved road and well worth the journey. Beng Mealea was only added to the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in 1992, and its relative anonymity coupled with the distance from town and the bad roads kept the crowds at bay.

How’s Beng Mealea different?

Unlike numerous other Angkor temples, Beng Mealea has not been encouraged or reformed. This means getting in and around the temple is a hands-on activity. Masses of stone rubble litter the courtyard and lie messily throughout the site. Vegetation runs amok. Beautiful mosses cover large swaths of stone and small saplings popping up from tiny cracks have turned into full-grown trees wending their way around and through the antique ruins.

How do I get in?

The temple’s crumbling structure makes traversing the place a bit tricky if you don’t know how to get around. Lucky for you the temple’s increasing admiration has created jobs for a handful of locals in the form of temple guides. They hang around the entrance to the temples and, although they don’t speak much English, they can show you precisely where to step and precisely where not to step. They know how to get into the darkest corners of the temple and they know where to stand to get the best views of the interior.

How much time do I need?

Be prepared to spend an hour in transit on the way there and back. You could effortlessly spend a few hours exploring the temple and surrounding grounds, so visiting Beng Mealea makes for an outstanding day trip. You can be back in Siem Reap for a late lunch and a rapid cat nap before heading back out to see an evening show like Phare, the Cambodian Circus or a Beatocello concert. Held every Saturday night at 7 pm; Dr. Beat achieves on his beloved cello in addition to showing a film about his work in Cambodia and speaking on the medical matters affecting children in Cambodia. The show is allowed but of course, very entertaining and educational.

History of Beng Mealea

Little is known about the history of the temple and the magnetism of a visit actually lies in the atmosphere of mystery and exploration, rather than the historical and architectural details of some of the other Angkorian locations. As a Hindu temple, it is thought to have been built around the same time as Angkor Wat. Due to its resemblance in structure to Angkor Wat, Beng Mealea is thought to have been a sample for the excessive temple. It is a great site, facing the east, and encircled by a wide moat. It is built of sandstone, although the carving is simple and limited to sure areas. These platforms or cornices decorated with a single decoration – much more understated than the imposing faces of Bayon, or the intricate craftsmanship on display at Banteay Srei. In addition, many of these ornate features are found strewn across the temple floor where walls and columns have distorted. This in some way can add to their attraction as visitors may factually blunder upon them while exploring the temple.

The temple was likely the center of a town, and it lies on the antique royal highway which leads to Preah Khan, in Preah Vihear province. The location was cleared of landmines in the last decade so has only lately become a viable tourist magnetism.