"Angkor - seven man-made Wonders of the World" Angkor Wat by sunnywong
Angkor Wat Travel Guide: 1,638 reviews and 4,718 photos
Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khymer empire is one of the archeological wonders of the world. Angkor Wat covers 200 acres and is the largest religious monument ever built. French naturalist Henri Mouhot stumbled upon the ruins in 1860 and wrote that "it is grander than anything in Greece or Rome.
Angkor Wat, with its soaring towers and extraordinary bas-reliefs, is considered by many to be one of the most inspired and spectacular monuments ever conceived by the human mind. It was built by Suryavarman II ( who reigned from 1113 to 1150) to honour Vishnu; identified as a god-king. It was later used as his funerary temple. A motif, taken from the story of the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, is illustrated in the famous bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat. In the center of the walled enclosure are the city's most important monuments, including the Bayon, the Baphuin, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas and the Terrace of Elephants.
The fortified city of Angkor Thom, which may have had a million inhabitants at one time, is enclosed by a square wall 8 meters high and 12 km in length. A moat, 100 meters wide encircles the entire area. The city being built on a slope that lets rainwater eventually collect into a pond that is connected to the moats. The complex comprises a variety of important temples with the prominent Bayon temple at the center. The city is notable for its five monumental gates; one each on the north, west and south walls and two on the east wall. The gates, which are 20 meters in height, are decorated on either side of the passageway with stone elephant heads and crowned by four gargantuan faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokitessvara facing the cardinal directions. In front of each gate, there stand 54 gods (to the left of the causeway) and 54 demons (to the right of the causeway).
This temple was built the end of the 12th century. The mountain temple has three levels made of sandstone and laterite stone and is located in the middle of the city. The giant sculpted faces represent Jayavarman VII in his divine state. He looks over and protects the whole nation. In fact, the faces are looking to the four cardinal points. While the Bayon charms are often credited to its gracious faces, the temple is also famed for the profusion of bas-reliefs depicting daily activities of the people. It is currently being renovated and some of its areas may be closed to the public.
Built in the 10th century by Jacovarman I this is a natural stone mountain. At the top there are 5 successive rows with 12 sanctuaries on each, It marks the centre of the first Angkor location, a square whose sides are four kilometres long. It is there that the Royal Linga was placed, a phallic symbol of the King in his divine state. From there, the views of the jungle and of the Angkor Wat towers are unequalled.
This temple was built in 1186 by Jayavarman VII and is dedicated to his mother. If you only have time to see a few temples, go to see this one. The temple was left almost the way it was when discovered by French explorers. Invaded by the roots of giant banyan trees, the temple is in a slow struggle with nature. So far, the trees seem to have the upper hand and the temple's destruction continues. When you sit on its peaceful stones, think of the time when it was inhabited by as many as 72,200 people, including 2470 monks and 600 dancers as beautiful as the motionless Apsaras on its walls. Unfortunately, the Ta Prohm temple is one that has most suffered from looting of its carvings.
Moving further east along the Victory Road we come to Ta Keo temple,Jayavarman V began work on this temple, one of the first to be built of sandstone. The temple has a sober look, the stones are hardly carved as it has never been finished. According to Georges Coedes, the temple was hit by a thunderbolt, interpreted a sign of bad omen,and construction ceased. The temple boasts a moat and 50-metre high towers and was dedicated to Shiva. Inscriptions on door frames of the eastern gopuras relate to dedications made in 1007. The height of this temple makes it a difficult climb for some people but it is well worth seeing.
Another work of King Jayavarman VII, dedicated to his father this time, is the Preah Khan temple built in 1191. The site measures 800 by 700 meters and is surrounded by a moat. The main shrine has recently been renovated and is richly decorated with lintels and panels, with bas-reliefs depicting Buddhist and Hindu epics. In the south-west corner of the temple, there is a unique two story building with hypostyles or columns. The temple sheltered 515 statues.
A temple in the forest 25 kilometres to the north east of Angkor Thom regarded as a jewel to which the nature of the material used, a finely textured rose coloured sandstone, is perfectly suited. Monumental size and architectural theme give way to a miniature scale and a dense and exquisite detail in near perfect preservation. This temple was dismantled and reconstructed between 1931 and 1936 and today is very popular with visitors.
Link to Siem Reap Angkor Visitors Guide Website
Link to useful website but a bit commercial
During the day, ridable elephants usually await paying customers on the south side of Bayon though they are sometimes at... more travel advice
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