Preah Vihear Temple is an ancient Hindu temple built during the period of the Khmer Empire, that is situated atop a 525-metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province, Cambodia.
Predating Angkor Wat by 100 years, the history of the temple/fortress is somewhat unclear, but it is known to be dedicated to the god Shiva and thought to have been constructed in the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-50), with further significant additions by Suryavarman II (1113-50). The Temple is composed of a series of sanctuaries linked by a system of pavements and staircases over an 800 meter long axis and dates back to the first half of the 11th century AD. Nevertheless, its complex history can be traced to the 9th century, when the hermitage was founded. Travel Indochina
The temple has four levels and four courtyards which comprise of five Gopuras (entrance pavilions sometimes surmounted by tower). Five gates, sometime separated by more than a hundred meters, lead to a central tower which has been knocked down by time and war. Hindu motifs decorate some of the walls while more modern Buddhist elements have been added over the centuries. What is left of the tower is still a Buddhist place of worship and locals coming to pray easily outnumber the small amount of foreign tourists who make the trek out each day. Cambodia travel tours
As soon as you enter the temple grounds from the steep climb up the first thing you see is the small military base – sporadic housing, bunkers and watch points are accompanied by groups of Khmer army keeping guard. In the distance is a Thailand flag flying high on the parallel cliff face, its military also standing their ground.
Preah Vihear Temple is located in a pleasant environment with an attractive countryside slightly east of the mid section of the Dongrek Mountains. It is perched on the edge of a giant cliff, about 625 meters above sea level in Preah Vihear Province, Northern part of Cambodia, 625km from the capital city of Phnom Penh. It is also situated close to the Cambodia-Thai border.
Due to the temple’s location on the edge of a cliff the Cambodian entrance is somewhat more difficult to pass, although significant infrastructure development is expected in the next few years. In recent years the temple has been a popular tourist attraction with a steady stream of visitors arriving from the easily accessible Thai side.