Sunday, January 17, 2010

Kbal Spean sculptures

Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta with a headless Lakshmi cradling his legs
If you can manage the 40 minute hike to the top of the mountain at Kbal Spean, your efforts will be rewarded with the sight of riverbed sculptures, thousands of lingas and a peaceful forest setting complete with waterfall. Too many tourists can spoil the serene location but that's a problem throughout the Angkor complex these days. At least Kbal Spean is off the main circuit but it's getting more and more popular, so grab the chance to see it now. I've posted here some of the key rock sculptures you can see on your visit to Kbal Spean, which is essentially a small river that flows from the summit of the sacred Kulen mountains and is fertilized by flowing over the lingas and down to the fields around Angkor below. That's the theory. It is a natural sandstone bridge, from where Kbal Spean gets its name, and depending on the time of year, some of the carvings are submerged by the course of the river and others are open to the elements. The original carvings were made in the late 10th, early 11th centuries and added to later on. You can see quite a few carvings which have been damaged and destroyed by thieves, intent on robbing this secluded place of its treasures. Vishnu is the most popular of the gods featured on the rockbed carvings.
The natural sandstone bridgehead has been sculpted in numerous places with carvings of the gods as well in the shape of lingas that fertilize the flowing water
Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta with Lakshmi in attendance
Next to Vishnu are three temple-type structures depicted containing lingas
Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta, with Brahma rising out his navel. Lakshmi is headless, a victim of thieves. Another carving of Brahma is on the far right of the photo.
A carving of Brahma on a large boulder
Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta and lings on the right side
Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta with Lakshmi holding his legs
Vishnu reclining on the serpent Ananta with Brahma on a lotus flower
The serene face of Vishnu carved into the sandstone bedrock at Kbal Spean
The central Shiva figure in this carving was hacked out leaving just a few smaller figures at its base
Inside one of the small caves above the waterfall is this shrine containing two sandstone pedestals and some sacred rocks. Hermits used to inhabit these caves.

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