Also known as the Capital of the Past Kings, the ancient capital of Cambodia, Oudong, is a worthy World Heritage Site with a long history. The city was the capital of the Cambodian Kingdom for more than 200 years. Until the 15th century, Cambodia was a part of the Khmer Empire and Angkor was their capital. However, as the French took control of the country when the Khmer fell from power, Cambodia entered its dark ages and the capital became Oudong. Very little information about those times was ever recorded; however, the ancient capital is one of the most culturally important and visually impressive relics of the post-Angkorian era.
In Sanskrit, Oudong means “tall” which is appropriate since the city has one of the tallest mountains. Moreover, in the ancient capital of Oudong, there are a lot of Buddhist temples. The meaning of the name may also represent the religious supremacy of the city among other Cambodian cities or Asian countries.
One of the most impressive structures in the ancient capital is the Oudong Mountain Temple. The stupas and the shrines in the mountain around the temple harbor great history. One of the kings of the Khmer is buried in one of the stupas, and another ancient temple which is now in ruins is home to a huge, golden Buddha statue. This temple in ruins was the crown jewel of Oudong and the story of its construction goes back to a long time ago and involves the Chinese Kingdom.
One day, the Chinese King started sending delegations to other Asian nations to understand who could be a threat. The one in the Cambodian region, seeing the Oudong Mountain, reported back to the king that the Khmer might be a severe threat. This was because the Chinese thought the mountain looked like a Naga, a minor deity in Buddhism. If Naga were to appear and join forces with the Khmer, this would have dire consequences.
After learning this, the Chinese King requested the construction of a temple right at the entrance of the mountain. The king also wanted a Buddha statue facing China so that it would protect it. Until the Cambodian Civil War when opposing forces destroyed the temple, the Arthaross Temple was one of the most impressive sights in the ancient capital.