Third Visit : Phnom Kulen, Butterflies and The Nandi

Every time I pay a visit to Angkor, every time I leave some task incomplete. May be I am destined that way – so that I am able to find a plausible reason to visit Angkor, again. Angkor is all over me, my psyche. The more I think of Angkor, the more reassured in life I find myself. That is the magic of Angkor. That magnetism just pulls me and I find myself amidst those serene environs, again.

No sooner that my second visit had ended, I booked my flights for this one which ended yesterday. Have begun to finalize my dates for the fourth, already.  After all, the Hot-Air Ballooning is yet left for me. I want to add the Angkor pictures to my repertoire, from the very top.

My recent trip was not without reason – it being to get pictures of my favourite Nandi of Preah Ko. And Kulen, the mother of everything Angkor.

Ever since I cast my gaze at The Nandi of the Bantaey Srei Temples,  my heart had become distraught at the soul wrenching site of that benign Soul as if sheared with a chainsaw a merciless marauder. Immediately upon reaching back home, I  wrote a Parable on The Nandi and began searching more pictures of him. To my somewhat consoling surprise I found one at Preah Ko site. It gave me a little solace for there He was in much better fettle, there at Preah Ko.

First day was spent going around the Temple of Angkor Wat for I had to complement my Book on Angkor Parables with pictures of definitive areas. It took my entire afternoon. Got really tired and got back to the Hotel; same Hotel, same room. These fellows are very kind.

Booked a car for Kulen for the subsequent day. The Nandi anxiety temporarily settled, I was very anxious of Kulen – what with those one Thousand ShivaLingas , the reclining Lord Vishnu and the entire landscape of The Kulen Ranges all for myself. I was imagining it might be only a few mad people of my likes that may be there in this rainy season.  But I was wrong, having imagined people as timid. There the were in as large numbers as in the season.

Ticket to The Kulen Ranges and one and a half hour drive through nice weather. And nice landscape with the early morning sun filtering through tall tropical trees saw me on the trail. While going through the dirt road, the driver asked me to taste a few Red Bananas which he bought for me. Incidentally, the Driver was my Guide as well. Phnom Kulen in the Khmer language means the Lychee mountain. Apparently their season over, there nevertheless, were lots of Pineapples and the red bananas. While driving, I noticed at one place a solitary bright red Bromeliad by the road side. Being keen on plants, I decided to track it back and take a picture; I did. I was now at the entrance of the Temples there.

Took pictures of the reclining Buddha and other deities and environs. Then my Guide, Mr Lucky, took me to my dearest Sarita, that I had been waiting for two reasons. Namely, the gentle stream of molten butter. And the One Thousand ShivaLingas.

I had imagined that owing to the rains water might not only be a tad turbid, it was likely to me greater in depth than just about ankle deep. It was; both.

But I didn’t allow that to diminish my zeal. took pictures of the ShivaLingas, as many as I could muster. Here I would like to bring-in a caveat. my pictures and  my write-up, all have a tinge of difficulty, that I have deliberately injected into them. I could well have used the supplementary photographic equipment to correct light, reflections, dark spots etc; all. But I have refrained; generally.

My logic is very simple. I want everything to look as natural and as simplistic as these could be. For example, the dark spots around the eyes, I could easily have either corrected, or removed them. But I have left them. Because – that is how we get to see them in life; really. To me they appear good. And very natural. Similarly, reflection from the water surfaces are there, always. Why should I try to overcome them by the use of a Polaroid lens, especially when I can still see good images with the reflection. It’s that simple for me.

And there is one deeper logic. The Divine blessings must come with some trouble. You cannot get them on a platter. There has to be some effort made to obtain them. This is my belief. My belief, for sure.

Then the Waterfalls. Including the bigger one where steep 104 steel steps make one’s already sore knees are kneaded ever more. I took pictures to my heart’s content. But, The Lord’s pictures I could not get properly for water was really deep for them. But then, my hypothesis – the next time round. After all my work will never be complete. And I am happy about that for it lends me yet another alibi to yet another visit. Yet another Tryst with Him.

Post the Kulen visit, got to Bantaey Srei once again, where my Guide helped me with many more Legends than I had previously got photographed. Then the BBC (Bantaey Butterfly Centre) where out of about 30 tries, I could get about five right pictures. From then onto Preah Ko for my most favourite The Nandi. Same calmness; the same humility which the world associates with Him; well & truly. The Temples here are very old and exquisite specimens of construction. Then onto Bayon & Ta Prom again and finally to Rolous Group. By then legs were buckling and hotel bed was the best place.

All is all, I was more than happy to have gotten to my two targets – The Nandi. And The Kulen Ranges. Lucky me, I thought.

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