Oudong Ancient – Old Capital Oudong Mountain
Oudong was founded by King Srei Soryapor in 1601, after the abandonment of Longvek. Under the reign of King Ang Duong (1841-1850), he constructed canals, terraces, bridges and erected hundreds of pagodas in this region. Oudong was later abandoned by King Norodom in 1866 in favor of Phnom Penh.
From 1618 until 1866 it was formally called Oudong Meanchey, home to a succession of kings deposed from the former capital of Lovek by the invading Thais. In 1866, it was abandoned by King Norodom, taking his royal court along with him to the current capital, Phnom Penh. It was extensively damaged by the Khmer Rouge in 1977, along with the other temples, monuments, and religious structures there.
Legend has it that in the Arthaross Temple (Temple of Eighteen 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.
Henri Mouhot travels in the Central Parts of Indo-China 1864 year, he wrote : Udong, the present capital of Cambodia, is situated north-east of Komput, and is four miles and a half from that arm of the Mekong which forms the great lake…Every moment I met mandarins, either borne in litters or on foot, followed by a crowd of slaves carrying various articles; some, yellow or scarlet parasols, more or less large according to the rank of the person; others, boxes with betel. I also encountered horsemen, mounted on pretty, spirited little animals, richly caparisoned and covered with bells, ambling along, while a troop of attendants, covered with dust and sweltering with heat, ran after them. Light carts, drawn by a couple of small oxen, trotting along rapidly and noisily, were here and there to be seen. Occasionally a large elephant passed majestically by. On this side were numerous processions to the pagoda, marching to the sound of music; there, again, was a band of ecclesiastics in single file, seeking alms, draped in their yellow cloaks, and with the holy vessels on their backs….The entire population numbers about 12,000 souls.
Oudong is situated about 40km northwest of Phnom Penh. You can travel there by tuk tuk, local bus, motorbike or taxi, a taxi costs around $20 there and back.
It’s always nice to travel to a tourist site and have the place to yourself. You should visited Oudong in the afternoon for enjoy with the beautiful sunset.
Oudong is a series of temples and stupas on a picturesque hillside setting. The hillside location means that there are spectacular views. Don’t forget your camera – Oudong is very picturesque. Get there early as the midday sun made walking up the hills a little tough going.
Oudong is a charming mix of the old and new. There are stupas and shrines to by-gone kings. Many of which were built after Oudong ceased to be Cambodia’s capital. Some of the shrines are deceptively new. Sanchak Mony Chedai, which is surrounded by serpent deities, elephants and lions, was only finished in 2002. What makes this structure particularly revered is that it holds three small pieces of Buddha’s bones. There are also plenty of my personal favourite – gaudy animal statues.
The signs at Oudong aren’t in English. If possible it’s advisable to take information about the site with you. The Cambodia Rough Guide had a decent section on Oudong, outlining the history and routes around the complex. Local children will ask to be your guide. I can’t vouch for how informative they are, but if you don’t want a guide, it’s best to tell them (a polite) no from the outset.