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Battambang History

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Battambang is one of the most popular provinces in Cambodia of having many ancient temple constructions, historical sites and ancient pagodas which has remained to be the historical heritages.

The best time to visit Wat Damrey Sor is during Khmer New Year festival.

Wat Damrey Sor (White Elephant Pagoda) is the one of the most important sightseeing place in Battambang. It is also called “Wat Svetachat Konhjakjaya”. It is also one of the most ancient Buddhism pagodas in this historical province. An unspecific source claimed that it perhaps was built in 1730AD. This pagoda was historically affirmed to be very glorious and prosperous shelter for poor students from the countryside. They came to study in the city. In former time, this pagoda provided extra class apart from official course time. The class was taught by volunteers who were an old generation students or governmental school teachers. It was just an aid for students who could not get much knowledge from the governmental school. Though, the volunteers did not get paid from their work. Especially, the lively bas-relief on the wall and false windows of the pagoda, and the magnificent paintings by talented artist are the main interest as well. The artist blended the natural color, from the plant, to paint on the exterior wall of the pagoda.  The bas-relief demonstrated about Garuda which was the guard by the gate surrounding the pagoda.
The mighty Garuda bas-relief are standing and lifting both hand to support the roof of the pagoda. After seeing these bas-reliefs, you will be very astonished and compliment this magnificent masterpiece at that time.  If you have chance to travel to Battambang, please kindly spend your time to visit Wat Damrey Sor.
Sangkae River is the most important river in Battambang City. It is originated from Teuk Pril Mountain, which is one of the tallest mountains in Cambodia, in Pailin.  The region is called “Srok Leu” (Upper District). It has many small river and streams flowing down such as O Kbal Krobey, O Koky, Steung Kronhong, O Spean, O Treng, O Ondong, Steung Kampong Kul, .etc.
 
In the past, at about 3km south of Battambang city, Sangkae River flew into 2 streams: O Tambang and O Sangkae. Later on, the villagers managed into only 1 steam which remained the present Sangkae River.  According to elder’s known story, Sangkae River was a small river, with 4 or 5 meters wide, in front of Sangkae Pagoda. There was a Sangkae Tree stretched the branch from one to another side.

 They always walked over this tree in order to pass to another side. Then the land there was called “Kum Sangkae” (Sangkae Bramble). After that, they built a pagoda and named it “Wat Sangkae”. Even though, the main river is at O Tambang Village. Nowadays, the end of this river was called “Steung Chas” (Old River) at Steung Chas Village.
They tried to restrain this river near Kweng Pagoda but could not because it always broke up many times. Nevertheless, they used a big barge to put across the river and created a solid dam.

There were a folk tale said that, they celebrated a blessing ceremony by sacrifice a pregnant woman to sacred protector there. Then that place was called as “Prek Ponnareay”.

There was another folk tale said that, they built a small chamber to keep the 3 statues: Buddha’s head, Naga shelter Buddha and Vishnu near that dam. Since then, that dam has not been broken. The amount of water flew through Battambang river was increased. The flow by O Tambang was decreased and made it increasingly shallower, according to the document of Mr. Keo Sang, deputy-governor of Battambang district had described.
According to some documents suggested that it was built before 1795AD.

Why do we call “Battambang”?

Battambang is the name of the prvovince where it had a very long story. There are many attractions in this province as well.

The very interesting story of it was demonstrated as follows:

Once upon a time, there was a man named “Nhoong” was born in Suon Mongkhut District. His father’s name is Suon and mother’s is Sen. Before his birth, his mother had a dream. Her dream described about the God of Time or King of Inferno gave her a sword. According to this dream, soothsayer who is the head of pagoda foretold that she would bore a son and he would be the king but his life would be short.

At the time of her pregnancy, she always wanted to eat Promatdey vegetable (The short green grass family but without flower. We use it as the park decoration.) Mr. Suon, her husband, always picked it and cooked to fulfill her wish. On 612 AD, Mrs. Sen bored a son as the foretelling of the soothsayer. The baby’s skin complexion is very dark mixed between black and purple. This was the reason the parents named his as “Nhoong”. Because Nhoong in Cambodian language is to describe the dark thing. When he reached the standard age to get education, his parents sent him to study at the pagoda

 

Meanwhile, let us describe about King Chakrapoath. Due to the death of King Sangkhachak or Leper King, the 15th king of Cambodia, his son, King Chakrapoath succeeded the throne in the age of 21.  The coronation was very glorious and joyful on 972 AD. He was then the 16th King of Cambodia. His reigning name was His Majesty Samdach Preah Chakrapoatrathireach Borompith. Even though, he still stayed in the same royal palace as the previous king. There was time when the king gave the royal order, to the ministers and government officials to gather the citizens from every province, to renovate his royal palace, clean and build the pond and river in the royal palace. 
Mr. Nhoong was ranked by the governor as the manager of his team and was sent on mission to the royal palace. His team was transferred to Dangrek Mountain in order to cut log and transport the stone. Other teams worked at Kulen Mountain (Siem Reap Province nowadays). 

This incident caused very severe anger from the whole population in the kingdom.  But they still resisted and were obedient with this hard work because of king’s power just to avoid the punishment. There was another day when Mr. Nhoong was on his duty to guard the camp. His duty was also a cook. He prepared the meal for other members. When the rice was well done, he could not manage to stir it, and then he looked at every direction and found the Black Roka Tree’s branch. He picked it up and stirred the rice.
Unfortunately, the white rice turned in to black. But he was very tired and hungry. That’s why he decided to eat it all without anything remained in the pot. He had to cook another pot of rice for other members. He wanted to stir the rice as he did but the branch was disappeared.

 

That thorny tree branch might be the god or ghost’s plan to place it there and it suddenly disappeared. According to genealogy of Tek Vil Pagoda, Saang District, Kandal Province, noted that because of his charisma to be the king, that’s the cause to formation of that thorn tree’s growth in that place. 
After having his meal, he was increasingly very energetic. Then he bended the branch of Cher Teal tree in order to make the basket to store rice. He realized that he was very strong compared to the strength of 5 elephants.

He could bend and uproot that tree easily. Other members saw his might then they strongly praised and dedicated him as sacred person. They believed that he was the incarnation of mighty king Thomek in order to save and glorify Buddhism. Those members accompanied to serve him and propose him to be the king. After that, he became the king which was said by the soothsayer. He was the 17th king of Khmer Empire. His reigning title is “Gottoma Amara Devaraja”. He suddenly ordered the royal soothsay to foretell his fortune. The soothsayer foretold that he reign would last only 7 years 7 months and 7 days. Another sacred person would usurp his throne.

He was very angry and anxious to look forward to fight with that sacred person. He wanted to slay that sacred person with his magic stick. When that day coming, he found that sacred person and started to throw his magic stick in order to kill that person but unfortunately the magic stick lost its magic and fell down to the small river. The stick suddenly disappeared. Then that small river was called “O Tambang” till nowadays. It means: The small river of stick. And that area of incident was called “Battambang” till now which means “The loss of the stick”. 

Battambang is the biggest and most famous rice field in Cambodia. It is filled of fertilized land, good for agriculture and crop such as rice, maize, been, potato, sesame, durian, rambutan, orange and agro-industrialized crop. Battambang is bordering to Thailand at the west, Banteay Meanchey and Siem Reap at the north, Pailin at south-west, Pursat at the south and Tonle Sap Lake (Biggest fish lake in South East Asia) at the east. The magnificent scenery featuring tradition, custom and natural resources is its beauty. The people there do agriculture, farming, fishing and sales in the market. It used to be colonized by the neighborhood and French. The aftermath is the history and colonial buildings which help to attract tourists to this province. 

 

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