Despite living in Cambodia for five years, I only recently ventured to Wat Kesararam in my final weeks living in Siem Reap. Located next to Sokha Hotel on Road Six, this pagoda has a dark history. Since 2001, human bones have been discovered on an ongoing basis at the site. These were the remains of victims of the Khmer Rouge regime, which resulted in the deaths of more than two million Cambodians between 1975 and 1979.
The pagoda was used as a security office, prison and killing field during the regime. The latest discovery, in September 2012, unearthed 18 skulls along with an assortment of human bones. The skulls were cracked open, arm bones were bound together with rope, and leg bones were clasped together with iron leg cuffs, according to an article by Thik Kaliyann in the Phnom Penh Post.
Human remains are informally kept in a small cottage at the pagoda has a reminder of Cambodia’s dark history, though I didn’t venture to the back to see.
It won’t take you long to wander around Wat Kesararam, though I would recommend a visit. Also known as ‘Pagoda of the Cornflower Petals’, Wat Kesararam is a relatively clean pagoda with many beautiful flowers scattered around the site. When you enter the location you will see a dominant stupa that looks like it was built recently. To your right is the pagoda, to the left behind the stupa is the Monks eating area, and behind there are the Monks living quarters.
When visiting any pagoda, it is important to remember the following rules:
- Greet Monks with your hands together in front of your face
- If you are in the presence of older Monks, you should also bow slightly to show respect
- Avoid pointing the soles of your feet or fingers towards Buddha statues or Monks
- Do not disturb Monks during prayer or eating times
- If you are female, do not touch a Monk
- Take off your shoes before going inside any building
- Keep your hat/helmet off on the site
- Ask for permission before taking photos of anybody
- Take some small money so you can make contributions to a donation box
If you stay in Siem Reap for more than a couple of days, I suggest hiring a tuk tuk and venturing around the numerous pagodas in the town. Each has its own style and history, and provides a great insight into the culture of Cambodia.
|Opening Hours||Presumably from early morning until evening|
National Road 6, next to Sokha Hotel, Siem Reap