the river of 1,000 lingas

Once, Shiva, a very powerful god, grew tired of the cycle of life and death and reincarnations. He decided to give up the pleasures of life and he smeared his body in ash and he didnt eat or drink or indulge in any physical pleasure. This created a terrible fire within him. It transformed him into a blazing lingam which threatened to destroy all creation. The other gods didnt know what to do. A yoni appeared, the symbol of the goddess. She absorbed Shiva’s terrible heat, restoring balance to the world and saving the universe from destruction. Thus is the one of the many origins of the Shiva Lingam.

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Phnom Kulen which houses Kbal Spean, otherwise known as ‘River of a Thousand Lingas’ or ‘Bridgehead’ is located 50 kilometers northeast of Siem Reap. A 45-minute hike is required to get to the temple which predates the construction of Angkor Wat by 200 years. The trail was steep and Ron and I were sweating like fabulous pigs…

kbal spean_bathing locals

kbal spean_hike

 The river found in the mountains is the source of the Siem Reap River. The lingas were carved to bless the water that would eventually flow past Bayon continuing to Bantea Srei and into the plains of Angkor. 

kbla spean_lingams

Aside from the ligams carved on the face of the riverbed, an impresive carving of the trimurti of Hindu gods can be seen. Vishnu is seen reclining to give birth to Brahma from a lotus growing out of his navel. Shiva with his consort Uma is also present.

kbal spean_bas reliefIn 2003, the head of Vishnu was robbed. It was restored August 2006.

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