9th Stop - Wat Phnom
Trip Start Aug 12, 2010
24Trip End Aug 15, 2010
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I planned to go up to the temple but once we had arrived here, the rain started pouring heavily and I could only go to the foothill. This is the most important temple in Phnom Penh and is located at the North end of Norodom Blvd. To go up this small hill into the temple, there is a fee of USD 1. This only applies to foreigners.
A small hill (the highest peak in Phnom Penh actually) crowned by an active Wat marks the legendary founding place of Phnom Penh. The hill is the site of constant activities with steady stream of the faithful trekking to the Vihara, Shrines and fortune tellers on top and a constellation of vendors, visitors and motodups at the bottom.
Elephant rides are available too, actually just 1 more surviving elephant by the name of Sambo. The last to still be alive among the tourism based activities which involve elephants in Cambodia.
The legend of the founding of Wat Phnom is tied to the beginnings of Phnom Penh. Legend has it that in 1372 Lady Penh (Yea Penh) fished a floating Koki Tree out of the river. Inside the tree were four Buddha statues. She built a hill (phnom means hill) and a small Wat (temple) at what is now the site known as Wat Phnom.
Later, the surrounding area became know after the hill 'Phnom' and its creater 'Penh', hence the name of the city 'Phnom Penh'. The current temple was last rebuilt in 1926. The large stupha contains the remains of King Ponhea Yat (1405 - 1467) who moved the Khmer capitol from Angkor to Phnom Penh in the early 15th century. As a note if you go up the hill, look for the altar of Lady Penh between the large stupha and the Vihara. She is said to be of particular help to women.
After the guide narrated this story to me and took a few photographs around this hill, we moved on to the Central Market.