Located near the present-day village of Roluos, Bakong is a Hindu temple-mountain built by King Indravarman I (reigned 877-889). It was center of Hariharalaya, the capital of the Khmer Empire before it was transferred to Yasodharapura (Angkor) by Yasovarman I (reigned 889-c.900). Constructed on an artificial mound, the temple is an earthly representation of mythical Mount Meru, a mountain of five peaks, sacred in Hindu cosmology. It is now used by Buddhists, and a modern Buddhist pagoda stands adjacent to the ruin site.
The morning I visited the site, the guard was kind enough to allow me entrance some fifteen minutes early. I was alone in the temple save for two young Khmer girls who were collecting the remains of yellow candles that had been placed throughout the temple and lit for a ceremony the previous evening. How I would have liked to have seen the temple aglow in such fashion. A beautiful flowering tree (Delonix regia - royal poinciana) near the pagoda was alive with butterflies.