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Visiting the 900-year-old temple Beng Mealea in Cambodia

Along the remains of the old royal highway of Cambodia lie the ruins of Beng Mealea, a 900-year-old unpreserved temple. Spread over several acres of jungle, with a series of so-called libraries, courtyards, and other chambers that surround a sanctuary, Beng Mealea has carvings from Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
Along the remains of the old royal highway of Cambodia lie the ruins of Beng Mealea, a 900-year-old unpreserved temple. Spread over several acres of jungle, with a series of so-called libraries, courtyards, and other chambers that surround a sanctuary, Beng Mealea has carvings from Hindu and Buddhist mythology.PHOTOS BY DAVID ABEL/GLOBE STAFF

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SIEM REAP, Cambodia — The road to the distant outpost of the ancient kingdom was said to be impassable, a winding route either engulfed by the jungle or flooded from tropical downpours.

It took some negotiation and several rickshaw drivers before I found someone willing to make the hourlong trek from Siem Reap to Beng Mealea, which means lotus pond in Khmer. I wanted to visit the remote, 900-year-old temple along the remains of the old royal highway to see what had become of a shrine devoured by time.

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