"High Point in Khmer Classical Culture" Angkor Wat by atufft
Angkor Wat Travel Guide: 1,638 reviews and 4,718 photos
Probably a by product of efforts to control the water supply for irrigation during the dry season, the moats surrounding Angkor Wat human constructed trenches, probably with the aid of elephant and oxen labor. The material unearthed is called laterite, and was the chief foundation material used at Angkor Wat and elsewhere in the area. While several hastily built temples within Ankgor Thom are mostly exposed laterite, Angkor Wat is entirely covered by carefully quarried sandstone, much of which was also carved into complex reliefs. As a result of this exceptional high point in creative expressive culture, the entire area is often generally referred to as Angkor Wat. In reality though there is much more, as Angkor Thom, the city of temples adjacent to Angkor Wat is at times equally inspiring, and often much earlier. Indeed, the Bayon, rates perhaps second in creative greatness to Angkor Wat, providing the well known imagery of repeating faces, imagery that Hollywood has so frequently used as a haunting backdrop for tribal jungle epics. For a complete overview, visit All my "things to do" and "off the beaten path" tips below.
Local government literature and current Khmer culture claims that the temples are Buddhist, but in fact the cosmology and origin of the temples is Hindu. Ankgor Wat layout is a series of concentric walls, through which gates and causeways lead up to the center towering symboic Mount Meru. In Angkor Thom, the earlier and later temples of various legendary purposes, built by various kings of the Khmer society, provides a cornicopia of reliefs and jungle enshrouded stonework.
Miles of walls at Angkor Wat are carved in detailed reliefs. I've also seen wonderful reliefs in Egypt and Guatemala, but the detail here is extraordinary even relative to these. As elsewhere in the world, myth and history are combined, and like the Maya, the original paper based history texts were unfortunately lost to the weather and devastation of invading military forces. Therefore, expect to see Khmer military victories, rather than defeats, shown on these stone reliefs. With careful study however, considerable evidence of cultural and regal heirarchy can be learned. The photograpy of these reliefs are challenging and time consuming.
- Pros:Must see wonder of the world--fantastic reliefs and construction
- Cons:The weather is almost unbearably hot and humid
- In a nutshell:Ruins fans will want to spend at least 5 days in the area
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