Home Other Countries Cambodia Siem Reap: Day 02 part 02 – Roluos Group Temples

Siem Reap: Day 02 part 02 – Roluos Group Temples

After obtaining our temple passes, Kristal, Jonathan and I once again hopped on our remorque (or tuktuk or Cambodian tricycle) and eagerly started our temple hopping in Siem Reap.

Siem Reap Rolous Group
Beautiful temple ruins bathed in sunlight. At Preah Ko, for me the most beautiful among the Roluos group of temples

Roluos Group of Temples

This archaeological site 13km from Siem Reap is a great opening salvo to temple hopping in Cambodia. Said to be the site of the first Khmer Empire capital, a city tongue twistingly known as Hariharalaya, the area is exciting considering it was here that the classical period of the Khmers started. Since the empire was just beginning to rise that time in the 9th century, don’t expect grandiose structures and temples. But that’s okay because as I said, it is a great primer to the rest of Siem Reap’s ancient memory.

Since I have no intention of making this blog post a history paper, allow me to present our temple visits through pictures. Not that I’m an expert photographer, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate visuals instead of long-winded historical facts. For those who really want to read those, there are sites online better equipped to give you what you need. Better yet, visit Siem Reap and learn and see for yourself the fascinating history of this part of the world. ^_^

Lo-Lei Temple

Quick background: built in late 9th century, once an island temple but now stands on the dry Indratataka riverbed. It’s a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva and was the last built among the three Roluos temples.

Impressions: a small temple but its bas-reliefs are already indicative of the amazing architecture and carvings we later saw in Siem Reap. My appreciation was a bit diminished because the temple was under maintenance/restoration when we visited.

Entry: just show the temple pass to the guards at the entrance

Lo Lei Temple, Rolous Group
First ruins visited on this trip. Some parts are covered due to maintenance and restoration work
Lolei Temple Rolous
near the ruins is a more recently constructed still functioning temple with wall to ceiling paintings depicting the life of Buddha

Preah Ko

Quick background: Also known as The Sacred Bull temple, this was the first built of all temples in the Roluos Group. Constructed by orders of King Indravarman I to honor his family members and the god Shiva. Why ‘sacred bull’? Shiva has a bull for a mount named Nandi and limestone bull statues were constructed in front of the temple.

Impressions: For me this is the nicest of the Roluos Group temples primarily because what remains of it are in good condition and it is surrounded by a green clearing bordered by a forest. Simply relaxing!

Preah Ko temple in Siem Reap
small but stunning temple ruins! can you see the bull statue?

Bakong Temple

Quick background: The first mountain temple in the area, made of sandstone, and is the official state temple of King Indravarman I. Built in stepped pyramid style, its construction details are strikingly similar to Java’s Borobudur, which is awesome because I’ve been to Borobudur in Indonesia and it was impressive!

Impressions: It was nearing lunch and there was lots of climbing involved at this temple. The heat and the excursion plus the gnawing hunger are a bit of a distraction, but overall this temple also has amazingly detailed carvings and as I said, Borobudur!

Bakong Temple Siem Reap
I think Bakong was the biggest among the 3 Roluos temples, lots of climbing ancient stairs here

We came across these musicians at the temple entrance. Landmine victims making a living and creating beautiful music. Was especially delighted to hear them play erhu music, something I adore!

These three temples only took us around 2 hours to visit. The guide’s consistent  narrative for each temple improved the experience and I totally enjoyed getting up close and personal with these ancient structures. So fascinating how they could construct all these intricate buildings!

After we completed touring the Roluos group of temples, we proceeded to see the Grand Circuit temples within the Angkor Complex. See next post ^_^

This article is part of a series. You might want to read the other parts too 🙂



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