November 2009
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Angkor Wat in Cambodia – incredible temples

Angkor Wat remains on the travel list for a large number of people, and why not. It is a mesmering complex of ancient Hindu temples, built in the 12th Century in Angkor in Siem Reap Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II; it was built to be both a temple city and also the capital. The temple is considered to be such an integral part of the attractions of Cambodia, that it is seen to be a symbol representing Cambodia, being present on the national flag. Angkor was the seat of the Khmer Empire in the middle ages (from the ninth to the thirteenth centuries). Angkor Wat is located amidt forests, north of a large lake (Tonle Sap). The region of Angkor is dotted with temples, with Angkor Wat being the most prestigious, the most well preserved, and certainly the most visited.
Angkor Wat was built between 1113 and 1150 by King Suryavarman II, and was a break with the earlier tradition of building temples dedicated to Lord Siva; Angkor Wat was dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The structure of the temple is such that it seems to portray Hindu cosmology, and the entire complex is huge, with walls approximately .5 miles long on each side. The temple has central towers that represent Mount Meru, the abode of the Gods, outer walls represent the boundaries of the world, and the large moat represents the oceans. However, in the reign of a later king, King Jayavarman VII, who had adopted Mahayana Buddhism as his faith, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist shrine. The building of the temple followed the pattern of using sandstone for the majority of the construction, and laterite being used for hidden areas and for the outer wall. The temple was built to be higher than the city.
The temples of Angkor went into decline, and it was only in the latter half of the 19th century that restoration was started by French archaeologists. Initially, there was disbelief that such a large structure had been constructed in medieval times, and this was compounded by the fact that the Cambodia of the 19th century seemed a far cry from a place of high civilization that had built such a marvelous piece of architecture. The current state of Angkor Wat is after a tremendous effort of restoration and to remove the effects that nature had put in there (accumulated earth, and the growth of vegetation).

Angkor Wat on Google Maps:

View Larger Map

Places to stay: In Siem Reap, you can find many places to stay, at all price ranges, starting from ‘guesthouses’ that offer basic facilities at $10 per day to the luxury of hotels at $200-$300 per day. Some places to stay are:

Grand Hotels d’Angkor
Le Meridien Angkor
Ankor Palace Spa Resort
FCC Angkor

Mid range:
Bopha Angor Hotel
Passaggio Hotel
Auberge Mont Royale
Molly’s Malone Guesthouse
Ankor Discover Inn

Guesthouses (the most economical):
Naga Guesthouse
Garden Village
Angkor Thom Hotel
Mommy Guesthouse
Royal Hotel
Red Lodge
Angkor Thom Hotel

How to get to Siem Reap:
Siem Reap is the access point for getting to Angkor Wat. You can fly there directly from regional hubs such as Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore.

External articles / sites / blogs:

1. (link)

During half-millennia of Khmer occupation, the city of Angkor became a pilgrimage destination of importance throughout Southeastern Asia. Sacked by the Thais in 1431 and abandoned in 1432, Angkor was forgotten for a few centuries. Wandering Buddhist monks, passing through the dense jungles, occasionally came upon the awesome ruins. Recognizing the sacred nature of the temples but ignorant of their origins, they invented fables about the mysterious sanctuaries, saying they had been built by the gods in a far ancient time. Centuries passed, these fables became legends, and pilgrims from the distant reaches of Asia sought out the mystic city of the gods. A few adventurous European travelers knew of the ruins and stories circulated in antiquarian circles of a strange city lost in the jungles. Most people believed the stories to be nothing more than legend however, until the French explorer Henri Mouhot brought Angkor to the world’s attention in 1860. The French people were enchanted with the ancient city and beginning in 1908 funded and superbly managed an extensive restoration project. The restoration has continued to the present day, excepting periods in the 70’s and 80’s when military fighting prevented archaeologists from living near the ruins.

2. Map of Angkor Wat (link)
3. UNESCO World Heritage site (link)

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century. They include the famous Temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

4. Translation of Maurice Glaize’s 1944 guide (link)
5. Holiday in Angkor Wat (link). With some great pictures.

Angkor Wat is an amazing place! The temple, the long galleries of detailed bas-relief carvings, the steep stairs, the history! Since it’s rediscovery in the 1800s, (with the exception of the civil war period) this historic temple has received a steady stream of visitors.

Photo Gallery:
1. (link)
2. National Geographic (link)
3. Sacred Destinations (link)
4. (link)
5. Images of Asia (link)
6. Photo Indo (link)
7. Photo Gallery of Angkor Wat (link)
8. On Flickr (link)

Videos on Angkor Wat from Youtube:

Angkor Wat BBC Documentary Description Video Siem Reip

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat – Part 1

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat – Part 2

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat – Part 3

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat – Part 4

Digging for the Truth: Angkor Wat – Part 5


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