"Angkor Temples" Top 5 Page for this destination Ruines d' Angkor by xiquinho

Ruines d' Angkor Travel Guide: 89 reviews and 282 photos

In order to truly understand the real Cambodia, one must visit one of the great archeological sites in the world; the spiritual heart and identity of the Khmer people: the Angkor complex. Had any of the main temples, especially Angkor Wat been built anywhere else they would be as famous or as visited Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Coliseum, or the Pyramids of Egypt. Angkor is without doubt one of the most breathtaking architectural masterpieces left standing in the world today. Without witnessing them them at first hand it is impossible to gauge the enormity of task faced by the builders of the time and the fact they are so complete after all this time is further testament to the advanced construction techniques employed more than one millennium ago. Everything is built on a massive scale and one can only imagine the awe felt by ancient visitors as the civilisation was at its peak. It is estimated that over one million people lived ther making it the largest metropolis in its time. Witness the two hand dug reservoirs that served the civilisation's rice growing agriculture: The Eastern Baray measures 7 km by 1,8 km and the Western Baray a staggering 8 km by 2,3 km.
Built in the beginning of the XII century by King Soryavarman II, Angkor Wat is the cultural home of the Khmer people, in various guises has appeared and is still on the national flag. Had it been located in the Mediterranean basin it would have been one of the eight wonders of the world.


The lands where the city of Angkor stands were not chosen as a settlement site because of any pre-existing sacred importance, but rather for their strategic military position and agricultural potential. In time however, over the half-millenia of Khmer occupation, the city of Angkor became a great pilgrimage destination because of the cult of Devaraja, the 'god-king'. From the era of Jayavaram II (802-850AD) onwards, Khmer kings not only ruled by divine consent, but actually came to be worshipped as gods themselves. The increasingly larger temples built by the Khmer kings functioned as the locus of the cult of the Devaraja, and were at the same time earthly and symbolic representations of mythical Mt. Meru, the cosmogical home of the Hindu gods. The symbol of the king's divine authority was the Shiva Lingam within the temple's inner sanctuary, and worship of the Lingam was the official state religion. While the religious ideologies of Funan and Chenla, the precursor empires to the Khmer, had also proclaimed the worship of the Shiva Lingam, Jayavaram's chief innovation was to identify the king with Shiva, involving a sort of apotheosis of the earthly ruler during his life time. Upon his death, the temple became the Devaraja's mausoleum and thus a pilgrimage shrine for ages to come. While the cult of the Devaraja continued unabated throughout the Khmer empire, other kings identified themselves with the Hindu god Vishnu (such as Suryavarman II, the builder of Angkor Wat) or the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (such as Jayavaram VII, the builder of the Bayon).

  • Last visit to Ruines d' Angkor: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated May 9, 2016
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