asia travel #8 Shrine of the stupa in phnom penh cambodia

asia travel #8 Shrine of the stupa in phnom penh cambodia

Oudong, an ancient capital city of the Kingdom of Cambodia: the necropolis of the Khmer royalty.

Oudong au Cambodge
Oudong in Cambodia: the stupa that was built in 2002 by King Norodom Sihanouk atop the hill of Oudong.
New Preah Sakyamoni Chedi that houses a relic of Buddha.

Oudong has been the capital city of Cambodia for nearly 250 years before the King moved to Phnom Penh in 1866. During that period of time, the territory of Cambodia remained coveted by the two powerful neighboring countries: Thailand and Vietnam. It passed in turn under the control of the one and the other. This was a black period in the history of the Khmer Kingdom.

More than 20 Khmer Kings reigned in Oudong. In the mid-19th century, King Ang Duong attempted to extricate the country from poverty. He built canals, bridges and hundreds of pagodas in the region of Oudong. Fearing a definitive splitting of his country in favor of its two neighbors, the King requested the protection of France.

His successor and son, King Norodom, got it a few years after the death of his father. The Treaty putting the Kingdom of Cambodia under the protection of France was signed in 1863 by King Norodom and Admiral la Grandière in Oudong.

Oudong in Cambodia: stupa of King Ang Duong
Oudong in Cambodia: stupa (tomb) of King Ang Duong.

Oudong is located south-west of Tonle Sap, about 40 km north of Phnom Penh and only a few kilometers to the south of Lovek, the capital city which preceded Oudong.

In the region of Oudong, there are numerous buildings which date back to the royal era. However, the region suffered from American bombing during the Vietnam War and was devastated by the Khmer Rouge in 1977.

Oudong remains today an important necropolis of the Khmer monarchy. The necropolis occupies the top of the hill of Phnom Udong (also called Phnom Preah Reach). It includes the stupas of Srei Soryapor (reign from 1603 till 1618), Ang Duong (reign from 1841 till 1860) and Monivong (reign from 1927 till 1941). The stupa of King Monivong is called Chetdei Mouk Pruhm and that of King Soryapor (the first King of Oudong)

In addition, King Norodom Sihanouk inaugurated in 2002 a new and magnificent stupa in concrete with a silver crown: the stupa serves as tomb of the parents of the King. It also contains relics of Buddha. The King brought them from Sri Lanka. Later on, they were stolen in Phnom Penh. They were finally recovered. Due to the presence of these relics, the new structure is sometimes called Buddha stupa.

The top of the hill provides visitors with panoramic views on the surrounding countryside and the royal estate situated at the foot of the hill.

Oudong au Cambodge: chinthe
Oudong in Cambodia: chinthe at the foot of the hill.

On the slopes of the sacred hill, there are various shrines and statues of Buddha. They have been severely damaged or completely destroyed at the time of the Khmer Rouge in 1977. Subsequently, a few reconstructions have been made. At the foot of the hill, there is also a memorial containing bones of some victims of the Khmer Rouge. Chinthes protect access to the sacred hill.

The Oudong hill is also a place where people from Phnom Penh like to come and picnic on weekends. Several picnic areas are located at the foot of the hill.

In the region, not far from Tonle Sap, some villages specialize in making jewelry. This is a result of the past presence of the royal court in Oudong

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