Beng Mealea – Breathtaking Desolation!

Stepping on the ancient, lichen covered stones of Beng Mealea, in the deep, dark shadows of late afternoon, is almost meditative.

No armies of tourists to vie with for the best camera angles here. Just us and a couple of nimble footed little descendants of the Khmer.

Beng Mealea – meaning ‘Lotus Pond’ – situated 45 km East of Angkor Wat, was abandoned for years after its discovery in the early twentieth century (much after Angkor Wat). Access was via what was little more than a dirt track until a few years ago, and the land mines laid by the murderous Khmer Rouge discouraged visitors further. Vandals then completed what the jungle and the elements left unfinished.

Despite all the destruction however, and the absence of any structure or adornment of merit, this ‘lost temple’ spoke to us like no other!

Beyond its statistics…..the fact that this Hindu/Buddhist sanctuary was second only to Angkor Wat, that it sat at the intersection of a significant ancient highway, and the surmise that it just might have been one of the most important religious and cultural centers of the Khmer kingdom…….

……..beyond all of that, is the whispering silence of those subsumed stones.The lost temple of Beng Mealea

The Lost Temple of Beng Mealea
Carved window posts
The Lost Temple of Beng Mealea
Inner Courtyard
The Lost Temple of Beng Mealea
Tree strangled shrine

 There emanates from Beng Mealea a harmony,
powerful and sober, which permits to place this temple
first among the first and to consider it the prototype,
the classic and purified specimen of Khmer art
~ George Groslier in “Al’Ombre d’Angkor

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Madhu is an Interior designer turned travel blogger on a long sabbatical to explore the world. When not crafting stories on The Urge To Wander, she's probably Tweeting @theurgetowander or sharing special moments on instagram.com/theurgetowander

57 thoughts on “Beng Mealea – Breathtaking Desolation!

  1. Beautifully captured…reminds me what an amateur I am at taking photos…most people know this as the ‘Tree Temple’ felt like I was on a movie set…can I ask two questions: what was the weather like in April?
    How do you get your images to feature as slide show? Does it only with with this theme and is it self hosted?

    1. Thank you. We went in December. April might be a bit hot, but not as bad as May. For the slideshow, you pick the option in your edit gallery page. The default gallery option is tiled in most themes. That shows up in rows of two or three as per your preference. You also have the mosaic option that displays images in a random square or circular mosaic. No this isn’t a self hosted blog…..yet 🙂

  2. Were you really as alone as it seems in this ruined world?
    Amid “the whispering silence of those subsumed stones”?
    What a gorgeous poetic description, it is perfect.

  3. Desolation is such a subjective word…looks like a bit of paradise to me! Beautiful images, Madhu….

  4. The temple may be ancient but still commands our reverence! We are fortunate to have an exciting peak into the past. 🙂

  5. Just looking at the pictures brought me to a different world and time. I just wonder how it would have been to be there physically. 🙂 Thanks for sharing your photos and experiences with us armchair travelers. 🙂

  6. “…whispering silence of those subsumed stones.” — How do you come up with these kinds of fabulous descriptions! Wonderful post!

  7. It such a beautiful, mysterious place. It fascinating that trees and stone building have been supporting one another for hundreds of years or longer (?)

  8. Looking at your photos, I can almost hear the silence, Madhu. What a magical and mysterious place to have a picnic. You’ve really visited some amazing places.

  9. I’ve never heard of this place, and given how much I loved the temples of Angkor, I would love to see this. Thanks for opening my eyes!!

  10. Wow Madhu! What an amazing place that must have been. Even among the ruins I can see the beauty it once had. All those intricate carvings and just imagine how long it took them? Great photos once again and thanks for sharing this beautiful and amazing story. 🙂 *hugs*

  11. That’s the kind of place I love to visit, just peaceful and mysterious. I really wanted to go when we were there, but it was too far away for our time frame. Next time. 🙂

  12. I love this line, Madhu:
    Vandals then completed what the jungle and the elements left unfinished.
    Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time and see it as it once was?

  13. Madhu, stunning gallery … so calm and quite all of them. Never heard about this place .. neither. When I look at those beautiful ruins and the silence in the photos, it’s like time stand still. Your header image are stunning. Wouldn’t mind join you for picnic. The carved windows … is my pick.

  14. What an exciting set of photos Madhu! And how lovely to see picnic baskets where once upon a time land mines were in place there abouts.

  15. i can see why you were captivated, Madhu, and having the place to yourselves for a picnic must have felt as though you were the first outsiders to have sat there for centuries. Just gorgeous 🙂

  16. I didn’t know of this one. What a peaceful encounter…the whispering silence of those subsumed stones… Beautiful description.

  17. Amazing the places you have been, Madhu. Places I’ve never heard of, but how beautifully you have enlightened me.

    1. Glad you enjoyed this Jo I think I have had a surfeit of temples and ruins though! Desperately need some nature or big city fix 🙂

  18. These ruins are bliss, something so attractive about ruins, i can spend hours sitting there…wondering their past, weaving stories..beautiful:)

    1. This would be just the place for your rambling imagination Soma! Oh the stories you would weave 🙂

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