Beng Melea Temple

The Jungle is Reclaiming Beng Melea Temple

Beng Melea Temple
Entering Beng Melea Temple
Statues of Ta Phrom temple
Statues of Beng Melea Temple

Nestled in the jungles of Angkor Wat lies Beng Melea a sprawling temple covering over one square kilometer. This temple is hidden away and not very touristy, giving it an adventurous, ‘lost temple’ feel. Luckily for us our “guide” or rather tuc-tuc driver knew where we could see the best temples even if they weren’t on the tour map.

We really appreciated the services of our local guide, and by the end of the visit we were very  happy to pay extra for being taken around the tortuous route. This involved squeezing through the thick forest, clambering through small spaces, over fallen rocks and even being guided along fallen roof tops.

Beng Melea Temple
Exploring the inside of Beng Melea Temple
Beng Melea Temple
Beng Melea Temple is left in ruins at the back

There are trees growing from the broken towers and crawling over the fallen walls and statues scattered around. The galleries offer some of the best ‘tree in temple’ shots aside from Ta Prohm which was used in the Tomb Raider. The most damage was done by the wear and tear of eight and a half centuries in a tropical climate, with the spread of vegetation, including the silk-cotton tree and strangler fig, going to work on some ambitious vaulting which was being tried out here and at Angkor Wat for the first time.

Beng Melea Temple
Parts of Beng Melea Temple had to be reinforced otherwise the tree roots would have destroyed it by now

Though there are some lintel and doorway carvings, there are no bas-reliefs and the carvings are comparatively sparse, probably the main reason this temple is not part of the usual tourist path.

Beng Melea Temple
One of the surviving Bas-reliefs of Beng Melea Temple

 Beng Meleais largely unrestored and 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 out of way site.

Beng Melea Temple
Beng Melea Temple

The history of the temple is unknown and it can be dated only by its architectural style which is identical to Angkor Wat, so scholars assumed it was built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Whoever built it must have been a figure of some importance, but he remains unknown, as no inscriptions have been found here, and no other that mentions it. 

Beng Melea Temple
Nature reclaiming Beng Melea Temple
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24 comments

    • I do love traveling and don’t think I will ever be able to stop exploring this amazing world we all live in! It is quite sad to think that the temples are being taken over by the jungle and someday there might be no sign of them left.

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  1. Fascinating! You’ve brought me to see a place that I may never see — and it looks as if subsequent won’t even get as good a glimpse as you did. Thanks for posting!

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