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…….
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