Kbal Spean : The River Of A Thousand Lingas

Posted by : foongpc | Monday, August 29, 2011 | Published in


I saw penises in Cambodia. I really did. Possibly a thousand of them.

But it's not what you think.

I was not at some nudist beach or anything like that.

I was at Kbal Spean - home of the thousand penises! Or if you prefer a more polite and "kamasutra" term - home of the thousand lingas.

Oh I spotted some yonis too, and if you don't have any idea what a yoni is, well that's another polite term for vagina.

Now don't worry. This is not an 18SX post. Not at all, in fact this post is utterly children-friendly. It's meant to be educational and that's what I got when I hiked up the Kulen Hills with Jam and his friend on our third day in Siem Reap.

That's Jam with his cowboy hat, hiking ahead of me.

After spending a wonderful morning at Banteay Srei, our driver Xiao He brought us to this place where we needed to hike up 1.5 km in the forest to reach Kbal Spean.

Located on the southwest slope of the Kulen Hills, Kbal Spean is about 12 km from Banteay Srei where we came from, and 25 km from the main Angkorian temples.

It was not a particularly difficult climb but there were several spots that were quite steep, so if you plan to visit Kbal Spean, you would definitely need a good pair of shoes!

We came upon funny looking roots of a tree.

And caught sight of a giant worm ...or is it a millipede?

What is this? Ant's nest?

Since I had walked the jungle trail in FRIM and Bukit Gasing back in Malaysia, this was not too much of a challenge for me.

Nice view along the way up.

400 metres more to go!

They said it would take an average of 45 minutes to hike up the hill. I wondered how long it would take the three of us.

Just 100 metres more and we would be able to see lingas!

Finally, we reached Kbal Spean in 35 minutes! Not bad right? So does that mean we were quite fit? I think we should be proud of ourselves! LOL!

In front of us was a river and there were possibly more than a thousand lingas carved on the riverbed! Can you see them?

Now before you start having any dirty thoughts, let me just say that these lingas are actually considered sacred by the Hindus. The linga is a representation of the Hindu God Shiva and is a symbol of male creative energy.

See the 5 lingas in a square above? That square is called yoni and it represents the Hindu Goddess Shakti and Devi. It is also considered as the origin of life. This linga-yoni structure represents the abstract form of creation.

Besides linga and yoni, there were also carvings of Hindu Gods on the rocks.

This is Lord Vishnu in a reclining repose lying on the serpent God Ananta, with Goddess Lakshmi at his feet and Lord Brahma on a lotus petal.

Kbal Spean is often described as "a spectacularly carved riverbed, set deep in the jungle to the northeast of Angkor." Now that we were there, we could see the truth to this description.

There were serious photographers with tripods taking pictures of the amazing carvings.

A word of caution : Always look where you are going to prevent falling into holes or openings on the ground!

We ventured deeper upstream.

We came across an amazing carvings of Lord Vishnu on the rocks.

The carvings of Lord Vishnu from another angle.

A big linga-yoni structure on the riverbed.

As we moved back downstream, we could see thousands of lingas carved in the riverbed! Can you make out that reclining Buddha pose at the bottom part of this photo?

It appears that the flow of the Kbal Spean river over these religious carvings and sculptures sanctifies the river, which then flows into the Siem Reap River passing through the Angkorian temples and eventually into Tonle Sap Lake and from there into the Mekong River.

A carving on the rock depicting battle scenes perhaps?

Soon we reached a waterfall. I felt like standing below the waterfall like this man, but there was no time for that unfortunately.

I touched the water though, and it was cooling and refreshing.

On the way down from Kbal Spean, we could see more carvings but I did not take pictures of all of them. Is this a carving of Lord Vishnu? I am not too sure!

There were several lookout points along the hiking trail on the way down. This is a view captured from one of the lookout points and being afraid of heights, I did not dare to stand too near the edge!

We also discovered an individual linga in a yoni carving almost hidden by tree roots.

As we reached the foothill, I began to realise that I was hungry. All those climbing and walking must have taken its toll. It's time for lunch!

Coming Up Next : The Ruins Of Beng Mealea