Kbal Spean, also known as the “River of a thousand lingas,” is an archaeological site located in Phnom Kulen National Park in Cambodia. This ancient Khmer site is situated in a remote area, at a considerable distance from Siem Reap and the main Angkor complex. The site is famous for its series of stone rock relief carvings that can be found in the river bed and banks. The carvings depict a variety of Hindu mythological motifs, including lingas, which are phallic symbols representing the god Shiva. The abundance of lingas at Kbal Spean earned it the nickname “The River of a Thousand Lingas.”
The carving of these sculptures began in the 11th century and continued until the 12th century, during the Angkorian era. The site was discovered in 1969 and became accessible for visits in 1989. Today, visitors can witness these remarkable carvings along a stretch of the river, both upstream of the bridge and downstream to the falls. The river over which the carvings exist is a tributary of the Siem Reap River.
In addition to the lingas, Kbal Spean also features carvings of other Hindu deities, such as Vishnu, Lakshmi, Brahma, and Shiva. These intricate carvings provide insights into the rich religious and cultural heritage of the Khmer civilization. To preserve these ancient artworks, the river bed where the lingas are located has been fenced off to protect them from decay.
Apart from its historical significance, Kbal Spean offers natural beauty as well. Visitors can enjoy a scenic waterfall and a small pool that houses hidden carvings of a crocodile and Vishnu. The combination of natural wonders and cultural treasures makes Kbal Spean a unique and captivating destination for travelers interested in exploring Cambodia’s rich history and heritage.
Kbal Spean’s “River of a Thousand Lingas” is a fascinating archaeological site that showcases the artistic and religious achievements of the Khmer civilization. Its remote location adds to its allure, offering visitors a chance to immerse themselves in both natural beauty and ancient wonders.