The legend of Phnom Penh

 In Cambodia, Khmer traditions, Phnom Penh, Traditions

Have you ever heard about the legend of Phnom Penh?

It dates back to the 14th century. At that time, the capital of the Khmer kingdom was still Angkor.

The story says that an old Lady called Lady Penh Or Grandma Penh (Daun Penh) is the one who founded Phnom Penh. She was a rich widow who was living in a village named Chaktomuk which literally means “the Four Faces” because of its location at the four-arm confluence of the Upper & Lower Mekong River, the Tonlé Sap and the Bassac.

After some big rain and flooding, one day, she was looking for firewood next to her house when she discovered 4 bronze Buddha statues inside a big floating Koki tree trunk washed-up on the banks of the River.

With the help of all the villagers, Lady Penh decided to raise a small man-made hill and to build on top of it a temple (Wat) to house and to protect the sacred statues. Later on, this temple grew famous and soon became a pilgrimage place. Based on the villagers’ beliefs, people would come to pay respect to the Buddha images and to pray there to make their wishes come true.

The village itself became larger and got to be known as Phnom Daun Penh, which literally means “Hill of Lady Penh”. The word “Daun” was dropped over the course of time … that’s how Phnom Penh was born!

This century-old temple built by Lady Penh is the famous Wat Phnom, located north of central Phnom Penh. “Wat Phnom” literally means “Hill Temple”. It is the “point-zero” used to calculate the distances between the Capital city to the provincial towns of the Kingdom.

If you are interested in exploring Wat Phnom from a very different angle, join our interactive walking adventure, you will be surprised!

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