Sprawling jungle temple covering over one square kilometer. The temple is largely overrun by vegetation and very lightly touristed, giving it an adventurous, ‘lost temple’ feel. Photographers: trees growing from the broken towers and galleries offer some of the best ‘tree in temple’ shots aside from Ta Prohm. Constructed in a distinctly Angkor Wat style under the same king that built Angkor Wat, Beng Melea preceded and may have served as a prototype of sorts for Angkor Wat. Though there are some lintel and doorway carvings, there are no bas-reliefs and the carvings are comparatively sparse. When the temple was active, the walls may have been covered, painted or had frescos. In its time, Beng Melea was at the crossroads of several major highways that ran to Angkor, Koh Ker, Preah Vihear (in northern Cambodia) and northern Vietnam. Regular admission ticket are not required but there is a separate $5 entrance fee. Beng Melea is located 76km east of town. The road is now in good condition and the trip from Siem Reap takes about 1.5hours drive to reach there . Graded dirt road with occasional flooding in the rainy season.
40 km east of bayon temple and south east phnom kulen . this temple was built in the reign of king jayavarman 6th , at 11th century 1080 A.D dedicated to visnu. beng melea is completedly ruined even though it was built at about the same time as angkor wat. its dimensions a similar, beng melea has no central pyramid. Enclosing by a moat measures 1200m by 900m.
Map of Beng Mealea, from a drawing by D'apres Leon de Beylie (1849-1910). In red the partially equipped path used to visit the temple. It was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting buddhist motifs. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. Four years it was difficult to reach, but a road recently built to the temple complex of Koh Ker passes Beng Mealea and more visitors are coming to the site, as it is 76 km from Siem Reap by road.
The history of the temple is unknown and it can be dated only by its architectural style, identical to Angkor Wat, so scholars assumed it was built during the reign of king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century. Smaller in size than Angkor Wat, the king's main monument, Beng Mealea nonetheless ranks among the Khmer empire's larger temples: the gallery which forms the outer enclosure of the temple is 181 m by 152 m. It was the center of a town, surrounded by a moat 1025 m by 875 m large and 45 m wide. Beng Melea is oriented toward the east, but has entranceways from the other three cardinal directions. The basic layout is three enclosing galleries around a central sanctuary, collapsed at present. The enclosures are tied with "cruciform cloisters", like Angkor Wat. Structures known as libraries lie to the right and left of the avenue that leads in from the east. There is extensive carving of scenes from Hindu mythology, including the Churning of the Sea of Milk and Vishnu being borne by the bird god Garuda. Causeways have long balustrades formed by bodies of the seven-headed Naga serpent. It was built mostly of sandstone: Beng Melea is only 7 km far from the angkorian sandstone quarries of Phnom Kulen, as the crow flies. Presumably sandstone blocks used for Angkor were transported along artificial water canals and passed from here.Despite of lack of information, the quality of architecture and decorations has drawn the attention of French scholars just from its discovery.