Wat Phnom, Phnom penh

Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh the namesake and symbol of the capital city of Phnom Penh, sets prominently atop an artificial 88.5 ft (27 meter) hill (or 'Phnom') near the Tonle Sap River in the northeast section of the city. Legend relates that Daun (Grandmother or Lady) Penh, a wealthy widow, found a large koki tree in the river. She hoped to use it for a house, but inside a hollow of the tree she found four bronze statues of the Buddha (and possibly a stone statue of Vishnu); she erected a small shrine on the site to protect them. Eventually this became a sacred site and sanctuary where people would make wishes and pray for good luck and for success in school or business. Another account of the founding of the wat suggests King Ponhea Yat (r. 1405-67), built the sanctuary (vihara or vihear) when he moved his capital from Angkor to Phnom Penh in 1422. The prominent stupa immediately west of the sanctuary, or vihara (vihear) contains the ashes of the king.

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