I have never been fond of the whole exercising concept, even though I cry when the weighing scale tips more towards an extra 500 grams or so. Give me a dance class, and this girl is happy. But ask her to get on a treading mill or a climb stairs, you will be literally feeling the brunt of the whole ‘if looks can kill’ syndrome. You must be wondering why she is rambling about exercise on her usual Monday travel feature post. Well, you see someone who detests exercise has to climb up 390 steps and climb down 412 steps, the person will end up rambling.
Phnom chiso was an exerting and an underrated affair. There is no other way to describe it. Located 60 kms away from the city of Phnom Penh, it is one of those places that very few tourists care about and are curious about. During my extensive research of Cambodia before my trip, I taxed over every single nitty gritty details, but somehow I did not come across this place even once. Located at a 100 m high solitary hill, this Angkorian featured ancient monument is perfect for a day trip from the hustle of the tourist attractions of Phnom Penh.
How to get there?
Since I wasn’t very sure about the public buses over there and I wasn’t intending t become a living example of lost in translation situation, I decided to hire a cab for an entire day for Phnom Chiso and Oudong Hill. The total price came down to $100.
How to explore?
Well other than the taxing effort of climbing stair, the ruins of Phnom Chiso are pretty straight forward. As I started on this excursion, I came across this huge inscription stating the exact number of stairs one has to climb to reach the top. My driver had already warned me that there won’t be any kind of refreshments available at the top of the mountain, so it is safe to carry drinking water with you in person. Since I didn’t want to carry extra luggage around my neck, I decided to be over-smart and ditch the rehydration factor. Well, after every 30 steps I had to keep reminding myself why I am making the effort of climbing this freaks.
The original name of this Angkorian temple is Sri Suryaparvata or Suryagiri, both Sanskrit names meaning “mountain of the Sun”. It was not dedicated to the Sun god Surya but to Shiva in the first place and also to Vishnu.
The ancient monument is currently surrounded on three sides by buildings of a modern pagoda, and currently serves as a habitat for monks and Buddhist devotees. The main icon of the modern monastery is a golden statue of the Buddha sheltered by a seven-headed Naga-king Muchalinda.
After resting a sufficient amount of time surrounded by beautiful Buddhist statues and incense sticks, I decided to move forward to the ancient temple complex. Thankfully, this time no climbing up business was involved.
History books says that much of Phnom Chiso temple was destroyed by bombs during the Lon Nol regime (1970 – 1975). During the war, the area was apparently shelled for consecutive 3 days and 2 nights based on the rumors of the place being a hideout for Viet Cong soldiers. Rumor has it that, although two bombs came through the roof landing in the center of the temple, neither exploded.
After seeing the magnificence of the temples of Angkor, I was definitely a bit underwhelmed seeing the ruins of this monument. With the efforts of the temple committee, most of the vegetation shave been cleared to save the integrity of the place.
Though the structures are now standing tall and proud among a dense drowth of vegetation so, the most enjoyable part of this excruciating trek would be the stupendous view of paddy fields.
Duration of time for the visit: 1 hour
Level of difficult you: Medium to hard
- Don’t forget your sunscreen.
- Carry a bottle or two of drinking water.
- Wear comfortable shoes.