Killing caves of Phnom Sampeau

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View of the valley below Phnom Sampeau mountain

The killing caves of Phnom Sampeau are caves in Phnom Sampeau, a hill 7 miles (11 km) southwest of Battambang in Cambodia. Major atrocities occurred there during the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. Many victims were bludgeoned to death and then tossed into holes which served as the skylights to the caves.[1] Men and women were placed in separate caves and clothes in another.[1] Today there is a large glass memorial in the cave next to the skulls and bones and a golden reclining Buddha. It is reached via a staircase. A memorial, assembled from cyclone fencing and chicken wire, contains human bones at the base of the stairway.[2][3]

Geography[edit]

View from the top of Phnom Sampeau

The killing caves are located on the Mountain of Phnom Sampeau, about mid-way up the mountain along a 250-metre (820 ft) well-made diversion road. The mountain is of karstic limestone and has a group of temples located on it.[3]

The approach is 12 kilometres (7.5 mi) to the west of Battambang on the road to Pailin. The mountain is also home for the macaques, which feed on bananas left by pilgrims in front of the shrines.[3]

There is a natural arch made of stalactites from where there are scenic views of the deep canyon, and the valley also has vegetation of vines and inhabited by bats.[3]

Features[edit]

A statue found in one of the caves in the Phnom Sampeau mountain

The caves, which are approached through a series of steps flanked by green vegetation, have a golden, reclining Buddha image. Skulls and bones are kept in a glass-covered cabin next to the Buddha statue. These were the people who were butchered by the Khmer Rouge Regime; the bodies of those who were butchered were thrown through a natural chute from above, a skylight opening.[3]

Remnants of war artillery (of the government forces) are seen there, oriented towards Phnom Krapau (Crocodile Mountain), which was the strategic location of the Khmer Rouge during the war.[3]

At the base point from where the steps lead to the cave, there is an old memorial, a chicken-wire enclosure which also houses skulls and bones of those killed by the Khmer Rouge. Another feature seen is an incomplete Buddha carving, a 30-foot (9.1 m) image, carved partly into the rock face of the hill, with only the head of the Buddha exposed. Lack of funds was the reason for its incompleteness.[2][3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b DK Travel Guides (1 June 2011). DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Cambodia & Laos. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 91. ISBN 978-1-4053-4985-7. 
  2. ^ a b Ray, Nick; Bloom, Greg; Robinson, Daniel (1 July 2010). Cambodia 7. Lonely Planet. pp. 256–. ISBN 978-1-74179-457-1. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Lonely Planet Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand. Lonely Planet. 2012. pp. 324–. ISBN 978-1-74220-700-1. Retrieved 3 January 2013.