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Beng Mealea Temple
Beng Mealea Temple

Prasat Beng Mealea was built by king Suryavarman II, early 12th century by primary deity to Vishnu with architecture of Angkor Wat. This temple is located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor, and 77 km from Siem Reap by road.

Beng Mealea (its name means "lotus pond") is a temple in the Angkor Wat style located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.

It was built as hinduist temple, but there are some carvings depicting buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. For years it was difficult to reach, but a road recently built to the temple complex of Koh Ker passes Beng Mealea and more visitors are coming to the site, as it is 77 km from Siem Reap by road.

Map of Beng Mealea, from a drawing by D'apres Leon de Beylie (1849-1910). In red the partially equipped path used to visit the temple.

The history of the temple is unknown and it can be dated only by its architectural style, identical to Angkor Wat, so scholars assumed it was built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Smaller in size than Angkor Wat, the king's main monument, Beng Mealea nonetheless ranks among the Khmer empire's larger temples: the gallery which forms the outer enclosure of the temple is 181 m by 152 m. It was the center of a town, surrounded by a moat 1025 m by 875 m large and 45 m wide.