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Saturday, October 15, 2016

Angkor wat, Cambodia

Though I had heard about Angkor wat from childhood days, it was during my trip to Hampi 12 years ago where I got to know its grandeur. The guide there mentioned that the Hampi was the second largest temple complex in the world, the first being Angkor wat. I had then made up my mind to visit the temples in Cambodia. 



Some interesting facts about Angkor
  • As said, it is the largest temple complex and religious monument in the world.
  • It was built during 12th century by Hindu ruler King Suryavarman II of Khmer Empire dedicated to Vishnu.
  • Angkor was moved from Hindu to Buddhist in 13th century.
  • Angkor was appears in the Cambodian currency and national flag
  • The temple occupies the area of 402 hectares
  • The city of Angkor used far greater amount of stones than all the Egyptian pyramids combined.
  • The sandstone blocks were quarried from Kulen mountains 40 km away. 
  • The number of blocks range between 5 - 10 million weighing between 300 kg to 1.5 tons. You can imagine how did they transfer them to the temple site 1,000 years ago!!
  • After the fall of Khmer Empire, the grandeur of the temple made people believe that it was done by god as they could not imagine how humans could pull out such a huge temple.
  • Angkor wat had 2.1 million visitors last year.

Reaching Cambodia was simple. The Air Asia fight from Bengaluru took us to Siem Reap with a stopover at Bangkok. Siem Reap is the town where the temples are located. After arriving in Siem Reap, I had struck a deal with tuk tuk driver to take us to the temples. The next thing was to buy tickets. Tickets are available for single day, 3 days and 7 days. We purchased 3 day pass as we needed that amount of time to visit the temples we had in mind.

Having seen many temples in India, one thing that strikes in Angkor wat is the sheer size of the temple. It is so huge and its grandeur is visible from outside. The moat surrounds the temple from all sides. The first sign of tourist influx was seen as we crossed the moat. Angkor was attracts people from all over the world. Inspite of we being in off season, the number of visitors was still large. Taking a picture without humans in the frame is a challenge in Angkor wat, at least in the famous temples!!


The temple makes its appearance as we cross the moat and the outer wall. It just looks amazing. The outer wall is about 3.6 km long!!


It was a long walk from the parking lot to first gallery of the temple. As we entered into the temple, we decided to look at the famous bas reliefs of the temple. Situated on the walls of the outer gallery of the temple, they depict the episodes of Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Depicting Kurukshetra war

Heaven and hell

Milking the sea
The corridor of the temple where bas reliefs are located. Ropes are placed to ensure that people do not touch the carvings.



The way to second gallery of the temple. To get an idea of the size of the height of the plinth, look at the person removing the weeds. The temple is huge!!


The temple has thousands of depictions of aprasas and devatas. The one that is seen in the second gallery.


The tower is located at the inner gallery which requires a steep climb over the steps constructed. There was a long queue as only a limited set of people were allowed to get inside. The heat was unbearable and left me wondering how it would feel in peak summers!! 


The climb was indeed steep. Children were not allowed in inner gallery due to the steep climb. So Tanu happily sat outside playing with mobile while we ventured into the gallery. 


The central tower of the temple. 


View of the entrance to the temple as seen from the top.


We had already spent nearly 3-4 hours in the temple. The heat made us exhausted but we were a satisfied lot. Our water reserves has dried up and we headed to the shop outside the temple to drink tender coconut. What a satisfaction it gave!!



2 comments:

Srik said...

Wonderful narration, beautiful pictures, Aravind. Thanks.

The guide told us that the three galleries represent, in the order, Bhuloka (Earth), swarga (Heaven) and Vaikunta (The ultimate destination).

And the difficulty in reaching each of those is manifested in the way they have been constructed.

The long bridge from the entrance to the first gallery is actually an image of Vasuli, the divine snake that was used to churn the milky ocean (Kshira Sagara Manthana), with Gods pulling it from the right side and daemons pulling it from the other. The man made lake is inserted between the first gate and the temple to depict the Kshira sagara.

The churning of this ocean ultimately results in the manifestation of Maha Vishnu who is the presiding deity of this temple.

It is such a grand imagery and such unbelievable realization of the same, that one must wonder as to what made this city to be lost!

It is just an unfortunate thing that the religion, faith, belief and the entire generation which created this master piece was ended without passing on the mante!

- Srik

Aravind GJ said...

Thanks for very detailed information!!