Beng Mealea is a jungle temple is more than 1 sq km in area, and is mostly overgrown by vegetation. It has been left the way it was discovered, similar to Ta Phrom Temple. With many trees growing out of broken-down towers and galleries, and vegetation covering ruined structures, it provides the opportunity for some great ‘lost temple’ photos.
However, because it has been left in this condition, in some places you have climb over ruined walls, and climb through windows in order to get around. There is a wooden walkway for the standard tour, and for those who don't want to scramble over stone blocks.
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The temple was built in the Angkor Wat style, but was constructed before Angkor Wat, and it is theorised that it may have been a model for Angkor Wat. There are a few lintel and doorway carvings, but no bas-reliefs. There is speculation that when the temple was built, the walls may have been covered with painted scenes, or frescos. The location of this temple is at the crossroads of ancient roads leading to Angkor, Koh Ker, Preah Vihear, and Vietnam.
The trip to Beng Mealea can be combined with a visit to the Roluos Group, or in combination with Banteay Srei and Kbal Spean. From Siem Reap, the road to the temple is a graded dirt road, and the trip takes 1-2 hours. However flooding can occur in the rainy season. An Apsara Authority admission pass is not needed, but there is a $5.00 entrance fee.
Location: Approx. 60 km northeast of Siem Reap
Construction period: Early 11th century C.E.
Built by: King Suryavarman II
Building style: Angkor Wat