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An experience we will never forget
March 24, 2012

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is a reconstructed temple crowned on a hilltop in Phnompenh. This place embodies a story about the founding of the city. Legend has it that after a heavy rain, a rich lady named Daun Penh found a tree trunk with four Buddha statues inside on the bank of Mekong River. She had built a temple to house the treasures, which becomes now the most active Buddhist temple and the highest religious structure in the city.


Wat Phnom was first built in 1372 and rebuilt for the last time in 1926. Inside, there is a central altar complex with a large bronze seated Buddha surrounded by other statues, flowers, candles and items of devotion and worship. The walls are covered with murals, especially of Jataka stories of the Buddha's earlier reincarnations before his enlightenment. There are also murals depicting stories from the Reamker, the Khmer version of the Ramayana. The newer murals in the bottom tiers are somewhat balanced, traditional and modern.

The southwest corner of the vihear and stupa, is a small shrine dedicated to Lady Penh. The front is often crowded with the faithful bringing their prayers and food offerings to the woman deemed responsible for the founding of the wat.

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