Friday 3 February 2017

Angkor Wat: My Photo Gallery

Tourists flock to Siem Reap by the millions each year to visit its world-renowned Angkor Wat. This ancient religious complex was founded by King Suryavarman II between year 1113 and 1150. It started as a Hindu temple but as the religious believe of the population shifted to Buddhism, it eventually transformed to a Buddhist temple. Today, it is more a tourist attraction than a functional place of worship even though monks are occasionally spotted inside.
Angkor Wat which covers a land area of 500 acres is also one of the largest religious complex in the world. A visit here boggles the mind as to how, during an era devoid of modern amenities like electricity, excavators, screws, bolts and nuts,  mammoth structures made using tonnes of stones and paved with artistic bass relief are even feasible (and that was approximately 900 years ago).
Two other structures that were created when Angkor Wat was built were a moat and a causeway that provides a link into the temple. The 200 meter-wide moat which runs 5 km around the temple ground was created by removing 1.5 million cubic meters of sand and silt, a humongous task that requires a lot of labour and phew, isn't that another marvel.
The outer wall and the monuments within the complex become more visible when you approach the end of the causeway.
The temple ground is really immense. There's a fair amount of walking to do and the best time to visit Angkor Wat is December when the weather is bearably hot. If you visit this place in July, you will be roasted for sure.
The sandstone blocks from which Angkor Wat was built were quarried more than 50km away from Mount Phnom Kulen and floated down the Siem Reap River on rafts. From the river bank to this ground, it remains a wonder as to how these heavy slabs were moved.

From the floor to the roof, the structures are completely made of stone.
On the way towards the central tower, there is a small lake which you can term a 'mirror lake' as you can see a good reflection of the monuments if you stand on the side nearer towards the entrance.
This photo of the mirror lake didn't turn out as well as I'd like due to backlighting. The best time to snap photos here would be in the late afternoon when the sun shines towards the monuments. 

Bas relief carving is a type of art in which shapes are cut from the surrounding stone so that they stand out slightly against a flat surface. Many walls are paved with bas relief but there are obvious signs of deterioration.
It's a pity to see pieces chipping off here and there. Even though conservation work has been on going since the French discovered this relic, it sure is not good or fast enough.
Commonly seen on many walls are the 'apsaras'  which are female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology.
Another motif seen on the wall.

Some fortification work is being done on this monument.
This is the highest tower within the complex. Measuring 65 meters above the ground, it also sets the limit for the height of all other buildings within Siem Reap Province as none is allowed to be taller than it.
Visitors are allowed to climb this tallest tower but the queue was as long as 30 meters when I was there. 

This shrine is seen towards the end of one of Angkor Wat's outer walls.

Activities Outside Angkor Wat
There is a hive of activities outside the complex before reaching the moat area. The distance you may have to walk to reach the moat depends on the mode of transport that ferries you to the place. Coming here on a long bus, you'll have to walk about 1 km as long buses are not allowed to park along  the road leading to the temple. If you are taking a van or taxi, you'll need to walk less. Taking the tuk-tuk or motorbike is the best option as these small vehicles will bring you fairly close to the moat. By the way Angkor Wat is about 5.5km from Siem Reap City.
Women selling fruits.

The Ticketing Complex 
Passes to gain entry into Angkor Wat and other ancient sites have to be purchased at the ticketing office which is 2km from Angkor Wat. A snapshot of your face will be done on the spot and print-embedded into the pass. Passes are strictly checked at every site so do make sure you do not lose them.
There are 3 types of passes as described on this blue board. The pass will allow entry into 'All' historical sites in Angkor Archaeological Park within the stipulated duration. There are more than 70 sites in Angkor Thom itself and of course there is the famous Angkor Wat. Mine is a 1-day pass which is good enough to visit the more spectacular ones. 

What I Think Of Angkor Wat
I would not say Angkor Wat is 'beautiful' or 'alluring' but it is so ancient and that is reason enough to visit it once in my life time.

Related Posts:
7.Things To Do In Phnom Penh: Part II
8.Things To Do In Phnom Penh: Part III

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