Wat Hanchey - The Vibrant Symbol of Culture in Cambodia
by Blake Johnson Mar 05, 2017
Located at the top of a hill 20km north of Kompong Cham, Wat Hanchey will satisfy you with not only its beautiful structures but the breath-taking views over the Mekong River as well.
Background of Wat Hanchey
Wat Hanchey which is considered as a thriving religious site is a complex of both Hindu and Buddhist temples. The oldest part in this complex dating from 7th or 8th century plays an important role in the worship during the time of Chenla Empire. In Khmer's belief home of Hindu gods was on the Mountain Meru, but there was no actual mountain in this part of country. Thus, people built the temples on the hill which was modeled the cosmic mountain to worship gods. When Cambodia was under the reign of Chenla Empire, Wat Hanchey was an important place for those who were on the journeys between the pre-Angkor cities to take a rest.
Under the rule of Khmer Rouge, the buildings in Wat Hanchey complex were damaged and they have been restored recently.
Discovering Wat Hanchey
To go on the top of the hill visitors can use motor scooter but I recommend you to climb over 290 steps since it’s a good way to improve you health and enjoy the beauty of nature on the both sides of stairway.
Thanks to advantage position, Wat Hanchey offers visitors the best view of Mekong River with a huge island in the middle.
The most notable structure in this complex is Chenla-era brick sanctuary. This temple is a weather-worn red brick structure dating back to the 8th century. The decoration seems to peel off, so we just can see original shape without the outer layers. However, if visitors contemplated it carefully, they can find the well-preserved inscriptions in ancient Sanskrit on the lintel. Nowadays, the residents in this area are Buddhists,but this ancient temple which once was used to dedicate to Hirahara - a god in Hindu religion still stands beside the other temples worshiping Buddha. It seems to represent the relationship between the past and present in Cambodia and remind people about the Khmer’s veneration to their religious history as well as religious monuments.
Another outstanding structure here is Theravada pagoda which dedicates Buddha. The one-storey building was built in Khmer style with the main colors are yellow and blue. The stunning sculptures and statues such as nagas and lions with different colors inside and outside the pagoda leave strong impression on visitors. Going inside the pagoda is good ways to enrich your knowledge about Buddhism through the colorful paintings on the wall and ceiling. You are also given a traditional water blessing and a string tied around your wrist to bring luck and happy.
Besides, visitors can also find some beautiful temples, pagodas, stupas and statues. One of the new structures is very unique with special decoration and architecture such as some paintings depicting the life of Khmer people.
Beautiful statues are displayed around or front of structures. Some of statues are people in traditional customs, some are wild animals, and some are huge fruits. The local say that each statue here usually depicts something or someone in the past, for example, the mythical hero or creature.
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