On the summit a pyramid was
built, comprising of five tiers, surmounted by a central
sanctuary that sheltered a linga. This structure differs
from all other similar Angkorian architectural models as
the interior was not filled with fine compacted sand, but
rather this monument is constructed directly on the rock.
An extremely complex study by a scholar has resulted in
an understanding of the number of towers and their position
in space that demonstrates the ensemble is a materialization
of the Indian cosmic calendar.
The 16th century seems to have marked a period of renewal
of this place and a conversion to Theravada Buddhism. The
temple became a symbolic beacon for pilgrimages to the Angkor
region with the quincunx of the highest towers almost completely
engulfed within an immense seated stone Buddha (the lower
part of this image was still partially visible in the early
A Middle Period inscription records the name 'Bakheng',
or 'Virile' that suggests (despite the fact the central
sanctuary was covered by this Buddhist image) the earlier
concept of a linga was still present in the historic collective
memory. It is curious but significant to note that Muslim
pilgrims left an inscription at the monument in Arabic praising
Allah. This stele was removed in the 20th century for preservation
Without doubt we could explain this by the well-known
tolerance that characterizes religious history in Cambodia.
At the same time, as this is an important pilgrimage site
at Angkor, perhaps it was also considered so by others?