"Angkor temples and ruins" Ruines d' Angkor by akikonomu

Ruines d' Angkor Travel Guide: 53 reviews and 128 photos

After 3 full days of temple hopping, there are just so many facts and history of the different temples to remember.

As we were travelling on a private guided tour, we had the advantage of moving around in a airconditioned vehicle. The heat is terrible, so I was very glad for the van. Also, the van gets around faster, which means less time spent on the roads and moving between temples.

Our local guide did history in University so I guess he was a good source of information on the temples. More interesting, he had little stories of his lifestyle, the local people's lifestyle, the general Cambodian society and Hindu tales and folklores behind the bas- reliefs of the Angkor Wat.

The cons of this style of travel - not much time to explore every nook and cranny of the temples and being reliant on what the guide showed and told us. Well, we can't have the cake and eat it, right?

After seeing all the different styles of temple, I tried to classify them so as to better remember them.

The earliest group of temples were built between 877-910. These were mainly dedicated to Hindu Gods. They included the Rolous temple (Bakong and Lolei), Preah Ko and Bakheng.

The next group included Eastern Mebon, Pre Rup, Ta Keo and Banteay Srei (built between 944-1001). They can be distinguished from the silouhette of three towers standing on a raised terrace. With the execption of Banteay Srei, the first 3 temples could pass off for each other to a non-discerning eye.

Angkor Wat and Banteay Samre were built between 1112-52 and have extensive decorations of blind windows and apsaras.

This style of decoration is also used extensively in the later temples and city of Angkor Thom built by the most powerful Cambodian king, Jayavarman VII. These temples include Preah Khan, Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei and Bayon (1181-1201). Another distinguishing point was that the king was a Buddhist king, hence the presence of Buddhist statues, carvings and shrines.

We can also differentiate the temples by the decorations and walkways.

Earlier periods of apsaras are depicted without headdresses whilst those of Angkor Wat and after show apsaras in fancy headdresses.

One favourite theme for decorating the walkways into the temples are the naga (mythical serpeant of Hindu legend) balustrades and stone lions (depicting power especially for Jayavarman's temples).

If you chance on a temple with walkways decorated with naga balustrades, stone lions and flanked on both sides by statues of gods and demons tugging at a serpeant, as well as towers of the 4-faced Buddhas (Avalokiteshvara), it's a good bet that they are built during Jayavarman VII's reign.

The temples built before the Angkor Wat were constructed with sandstone and bricks and carvings were made on mortar and stucco. Banteay Srei stands alone as the only temple built of pink standstone (which is harder than sandstone).

Temples following the Angkor Wat were made of sandstone and laterite (no bricks used).

All the stones used to build the temples were harvested from the quarry in Mount Kulen, which is still being harvested today for restoration works.

Pros and Cons
  • In a nutshell:Too many temples in the hot sun can just be too much
  • Last visit to Ruines d' Angkor: Sep 2004
  • Intro Updated Sep 26, 2004
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akikonomu

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