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March 24, 2012

Phnom Preah Reach Throap

Oudong is backed by two main ridges in which Phnom Preah Reach Throap (literally Hill of the Royal Fortune) is the larger one. It was so called since Khmers believed the kings had hidden the national treasury here during the war with the Siamese.



The Phnom Preah Reach Throap, however, is better known for its impressive Vihear preah Athross (vihara of the 18 Cubit Buddha). The vihara was badly devastated during Khmer Rouge regime. There now remain only some parts of the walls, the eight enormous column base and the right arm of the Buddha. At the base of the ridge is a memorial to victims of Pol Pot, containing the bones of people buried in the 100 or so mass graves found in the area.


Legend has it that in the Arthross Temple (Temple of Eight Points). The Buddha located here faces north instead of the traditional direction of east, symbolizing a testimony to the strength and power of the ancient Khmer kingdom. In the 18th century, locals say, a Chinese emperor sent his people out across Asia to identify potential threats. When they came to Oudong, they saw a mountain shaped like a naga, with a cavern on top of the Arthross end, and they observed the wealth and power of Khmer society. The Chinese told their emperor that the Khmers were already a powerful race, and should a naga appear through the cavern of Arthross, they would be strong enough to rule the world.

The Chinese emperor did not want this, nor did he want a war. Instead, he asked the Khmer king if he could build a temple above the cavern, with the Buddha's face towards China in order to protect his empire. This was named the Arthaross temple which means "18 corners", because there are 18 points, or corners, built into the structure of the temple.

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