Beng Melea, an Angkor temple 37 miles east of Siem Reap, is perhaps the best place to feel like Lara Croft or Indiana Jones. Here you can clamber around the crumbling stones of an "undiscovered" and mysterious temple that has been reclaimed by the jungle. Long a secret enclave for temple buffs and only recently cleared of land mines, Beng Melea is steadily attracting more visitors.
History of Beng Melea
No one has found the usual Sanskrit inscription on the temple, but King Suryavarman (Angkor Wat's builder) is believed to have erected it in the 12th century.
What to See at Beng Melea
Beng Melea temple has three gallery walls and a moat at the entrance. The interior temple area is a big pile of rubble, great for climbing around and exploring. There was a movie recently filmed here and the filmmakers left their ramps, making it a bit easier to get around.
The east entrance is closed because of many fallen rocks, but enter just to the right of the main entrance and look for the relief images of the god of fire over the first door as you approach the gallery by the first ramp, then an image of a three-headed elephant born of the mythical Churning of the Ocean of Milk (the Hindu creation legend). A small library is inside this first gallery area. From here, plunge into the temple center.
The platform path from the center leads through a covered, dark gallery. Between sections, you'll have to do some clambering and rock hopping - be careful of the slippery moss. The path exits the opposite (west) side of the temple, and from there you can either wend your way back through, following a different course to the rocks, or walk around the outside.
Beng Melea is 60km (37 miles) east of Siem Reap and is often visited as part of a day trip along with the Roluos Group. The road is paved and smooth until just after the Roluos group where you turn north at the town of Dom Dek, which has a local market that's worth a stop. From there, follow a dusty, bumpy road. Traveling by motorbike is not recommended, at least not without a good mask and nerves of steel.
Quick Facts on Beng Melea
|Categories:||temples; ruins; World Heritage Sites|
|Visitor and Contact Information|
|Coordinates:||13.477828° N, 104.225100° E|
|Address:||Phumi Boeng Mealea, Cambodia|
Siem Reap, Cambodia
|Lodging:||View hotels near Beng Melea|
- Frommer's Vietnam with Angkor Wat, 1st ed. (2006).
- Lonely Planet Cambodia (2005).
- Beng Mela - The Angkor Guide (translation of Maurice Glaize, A Guide to the Angkor Monuments)
- Photos of Beng Melea - here on Sacred Destinations
Map of Beng Melea, Siem Reap
Below is a location map and aerial view of Beng Melea. Using the buttons on the left (or the wheel on your mouse), you can zoom in for a closer look, or zoom out to get your bearings. To move around, click and drag the map with your mouse.