PHNOM CHISOR, TAKEO, CAMBODIA - 2014/08/20: The ruins at Phnom Chisor, a temple built in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire king Suryavarman. A  practitioner of Brahmanism, Suryavarman dedicated the temple to the Hindu gods Shiva and Vishnu. The original name of the temple was Sri Suryaparvata. Hundreds of miles from the temples of Angkor Wat, the temple is little visited and close to falling down; temporary measures are being taken to stabilize parts of it with wooden and metal braces. (Photo by Leisa Tyler/LightRocket via Getty Images)

LightRocket via Getty Images

Phnom Chisor


A temple from the Angkorian era, Phnom Chisor is set upon a solitary hill in Takeo Province, offering superb views of the countryside. Try to get here early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as it is an uncomfortable climb in the heat of the midday sun. Phnom Chisor lies about 55km south of Phnom Penh.

The main temple stands on the eastern side of the hilltop. Constructed of laterite and brick with carved sandstone lintels, the complex is surrounded by the partially ruined walls of a 2.5m-wide gallery with windows. Inscriptions found here date from the 11th century, when this site was known as Suryagiri.

On the plain to the west of Phnom Chisor are the sanctuaries of Sen Thmol (just below Phnom Chisor), Sen Ravang and the former sacred pond of Tonlé Om. All three of these features form a straight line from Phnom Chisor in the direction of Angkor. During rituals held here 900 years ago, the king, his Brahmans and their entourage would climb a monumental 400 steps to Suryagiri from this direction.

If you haven’t got the stamina for an overland adventure to Preah Vihear or Phnom Bayong (near Takeo), this is the next best thing for a temple with a view. Near the main temple is a modern Buddhist vihara (temple sanctuary), which is used by resident monks.

Renting a motorbike in Phnom Penh is one of the most enjoyable ways to get here in combination with Tonlé Bati or Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rescue Centre. Booking a share taxi is a comfortable option in the wet or hot seasons or you can take a Takeo-bound bus to the access road, about 49km south of Phnom Penh, and arrange a moto (motorcycle taxi) from there.

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