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Thursday, February 07, 2013

The River of the 1000 Lingas

The term ‘Holy Water’ is there in most religions. It is there in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and others. The term exists in the Angkor group of temples in Cambodia too. A lot of Hindus from India travel to Cambodia to see this sight. A lot of tourists  from other religions and countries see it too.

Siem Reap River_River of the 1000 Lingas
This is the site in the mountains where the Siem Reap river flows over a 1000 lingas (the Hindu god Shiva) deep in the forests. This place is very far away from Siem Reap, at about 50 kms from the city. Only serious enthusiasts, travelers and temple fanatics make this far. After all, you have to brave a half day ride in a tuk tuk or an expensive drive in the taxi to see this place.

Waterfall on the Siem Reap River
I went to this place by tuk tuk. It cost me about $15 for the entire half day exercise. I left in the morning at 7 AM and returned to my hotel in Siem Reap at around 1 PM. The journey to the entry point of the 100 Lingas took me about one and a half hours. Here, they check your tickets (your Angkor ticket is valid here) and off you begin your climb to the top. The tourist guide books and the locals say that it takes 45 minutes for the climb, but if you are fit and ready to walk 2.8 kms of climb in one go, you can cover it in between 12 and 15 minutes. A good pair of shoes or floaters is ideal, though not mandatory. Terrain is well covered by trees, so you need not worry about getting sun burnt, though you might have to worry about the humidity. Hence, carry at least a liter of water on you.

Lingas and God Carvings on the Siem Reap River in Cambodia
Once you reach your destination, you will wonder why you made this climb when you can’t see anything. And it is precisely for this reason that the Angkor authorities have instated two guides who will show you the various rock inscriptions in and around the water. They will show you the Maha Vishnu in Ananta Sayanam position supported by his nagas, the 3 headed Brahma, Nandi Bull – the vehicle of Lord Shiva, various Apsaras and Devas, Crocodiles, Frogs and the 1000 lingas that have been carved onto the stones here. So in essence, the waters of the Siem Reap river flows over the Hindu gods and thus the water is considered holy.

Holy Water from the Siem Reap River
If you walk a little further downstream, you will hear a waterfall and when you get to it, the guide will tell you that you can take a holy bath here. A lot of tourists do not take a bath here as there are no support systems and no one is carrying their swimming trunks and towel. But, luckily for me, I was carrying mine and had a fantastic shower under the holy waterfall on the Siem Reap river. The water is very pleasant and the force is perfect for a soothing and relaxing bath. Whether you are here as an inquisitive traveler, a temple lover, a Hindu patriot or a connoisseur of good architecture, you will like this place. The place has enough in it to keep your mind occupied for 2 hours straight.



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