Oudong - The Peaceful Place of Worship in Cambodia
by Top Mekong Cruises Feb 28, 2017
On the journey of exploring Kingdom of Wonder, Oudong is a must-see destination where you can take step back to the early history of Cambodian through stupas, temples and the stories behind them.
History of Oudong
When Thais attacked Longvek the former capital, King Srei Soryapor left this place. He found Oudong in 1601 and it became the capital of Cambodia since then. At that time it was called Oudong Meanchey in which Oudong means noble or excellent and Meanchey means victory. Under the reign of King Ang Duong (1841-1850), the King constructed canals, bridges and erected hundreds of pagodas in this region. However, Oudong just was the capital of Cambodia from 1618 until 1866 when King Norodom decided to move the royal court to Phnom Penh. Oudong was a strategic location in wars for the national independence, thus it was destroyed so much in the war time. Nowadays Oudong or Udong is a town of Cambodia in Kampong Speu province, about 40km northwest of Phnom Penh.
Things to See and Do in Oudong
Almost the highlights of the trip to Oudong are found on the Oudong mountain which is famous for its Buddha temples and amazing stupas as well as structures. To reach the top of the mountain, it will take you a short period of time to get over more than 500 steps from the base of the hill. It is also a good chance for you to enjoy the fresh air and the shadow of the big lush green trees on both sides of the stairway.
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Once you come to the hill’s top, you can get the majestic views of the Cambodian countryside.
At the base of the mountain is a memorial which contains the bones taken from the killing field. It is considered as the testament to the crime of Khmer Rouge and reminds people about the darkest time in Cambodian history as well as the Cambodian’s resilience in difficult life.
One of the impressive structures there is Arthaross Temple. Unfollowed the traditional rules, this statue of Buddha faced north instead of orienting to the east as usual. The locals have a legend about it. According to the residents, Cambodian stored all the treasures in a cavern underneath the Arthaross temple. In 18th century, after receiving a report about Cambodia from the envoy who was sent to identify the potential threat among Asian countries, a Chinese emperor believed that Khmer people was wealth and powerful. They were protected by a giant Naga living in Oudong mountain. If it were disturbed, it would awaken, and then the Cambodian would have great power to rule the world. The Chinese emperor did not want it happen, thus a temple and a giant Buddha were constructed above the cavern in which the Buddha faced to China to protect this kingdom. As the name Arthaross which means 18 corners, you can find 18 corners built into the structure of this temple and a golden giant Buddha statue inside this temple.
Several notable structures are available for you to contemplate, for instance three large stupas mark the resting place of kings. The first one is called Damrei Sam poan which is used for worshiping King Soriyopor. The second stupa is Ang Doung built by King Norodom to worship King Ang Duong. One of its outstanding features is its coloured tiles. The other is the stupa of King Monivong. It leaves strong impression on visitors by not only Garudas, elephants and floral ornamentation decorated outside it but also four faces on the upper parts in which each face looks into different directions.
Moreover, on the highest point of the mountain is a huge stupa which is believed as a stupa containing the relic of Buddha. It was built in Khmer architecture style with beautiful carvings and structure, for example the three headed elephant or the seven-head nagas on both sides of the stairway.
Besides the structures dating back hundred years ago, there is a new temple built at the base of the hills and also had the features of Khmer structure too. Statues of seven-head nagas and lions guarding on the staiways and a golden statue of Buddha protected by the king of nagas are some outstanding features outside this new temple.
This temple was completely built to dedicate to Buddha. Thus, visitors can find a variety of paintings covered entirely internal spaces. These beautiful paintings depict the history of Buddism in Cambodia.
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