Friday, 16 May 2008

ANGKOR WAT - CAMBODIA

I have only one word to describe ANGKOR WAT - MAJESTIC!!

Nothing prepared me for the sight of Angkor. When we arrived into Angkor, we saw miles of moat surrounding the entire temple. I was there on the second day to see sunrise and on the third and last day I was utterly & totally dissapointed because it RAINED!! Our driver kept saying 'go take pictures and get on with it'. I can understand why because he was with us from 5.30 am till 10.30 pm the day before, so he's quite keen to get rid of us on the last day. It started raining when I was in Bayon and I told Soluy (our guide), I am staying put in Bayon until the rain stopped as I will not be deprived of my last views of Angkor on my last day. So, the rain stopped, it was cool and breezy but NO sunset at Angkor. The sunset photos are important because that's where the entire temple glows in the sun, rather than the normal greyish colours we see during morning. Ah..well, it only means I will come back later for the sunset sightings of Angkor later. (The above header of ANGKOT WAT was taken just after the rain.)
King Suryavarman II (Surya in sanskrit means 'sun' and varman in Hindu means 'protector' or 'shield') built Angkor Wat in the early 12th century (he ruled from 1113 to 1150 AD). Historians ranked him as the Khmer's greatest king and that Khmer (Cambodia) was in it's epitome of success during this reign. Angkor Wat was his state temple and capital city dedicated to the Hindu God, Lord Vishnu. This is one of the few temples that faces west and many said that is was due to the west is the cardinal placing for Lord Vishnu. He was also the first king to break tradition in embracing Vishnu rather than Shiva in terms of religion life.

Angkor Wat is one fo the best preserved temple and the most significant Hindu temple and largest religious monument in the world. It contains 5 temples-mountain signifying Mount Meru, a mythical mountain said to be home to the Hindu Gods. Sits within a moat of 570 feet width and 4 miles long. It has extensive bas-reliefs and numereous devatas (guardian spirits) surrounding the temple.

Angkor in sanskrit means capital and Wat in Khmer means temple. The outer wall measures 1024 by 802 m x 4.5 m height. We enter into a gopura (entrance to a building in Khmer language) and crosses the 370 m causeway that connects the gopura to Angkor Wat. The outer wall enloces a space of 820,000 metres (203 acres). For hundreds of years Cambodian peasants living near the then jungle of Angkor Wat talked about 'temples built by Gods or Giant' to French colonists. It was discovered in 1860.

To give you an accurate description of the entire Angkor, you need to see the aerial view of it. Picture courtesy of Angkor Wat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The entire temple surrounded by 4 miles of moat.













This picture taken on the bridge to Angkor, water was crystal clear and very clean.


Entrance from road to the gopura before going into Angkor Wat.


Entrance into Angkor Wat at the Gopura and another favourite window with view of Angkor. My guide Soluy has good knowledge on the best spots to photograph Angkor Wat.















Endless carving of Apsaras (wondering nymphs) all over Angkor walls, no trip to Cambodia is complete without witnessing the Apsara dance at night.
























Bas-reliefs are individual figures, groups of figures, or entire scenes cut into stone walls, not as drawings but as sculpted images projecting from a background. Sculpture in bas-relief is distinguished from sculpture in haut-relief, in that the latter projects farther from the background, in some cases almost detaching itself from it (source from WIKI). Here is my friend TS and me at one of the bas-relief wall. Each wall depicts some Hindu epic of Ramayana & Mahabhrata, churning of the milk sea, Vishnu defeating asuras etc.



Another wall of bas-relief and the newly renovated wooden roof (left), you can see how long is the gallery!! One of the temple inside Angkor.

















Some of my fav shots of the temple tower. The towers are actually surrounded by walls and within the walls are quite dark, so I like to take the photos from inside looking out.





















Me and TS sitting at one of the libraries with Angkor as background.


At the foot of the entrance into Angkor, again note the steep steps (left), and capturing monks sitting on the edge, being camera-shy they wouldn't pose for me. Some of the rules when you are in Cambodia (or Thailand)is that you never touch a monk when you see him, not even when you are giving alms.




















Here within Angkor Wat, showing the balustrade of walls surrounding the temple.


Inside Angkor.


Library within Angkor temple.









These are some of my favourite pictures and will upload the entire set into my flickr account later. I hope you have enjoyed Angkor and I will post on King Jayavarman VII and his city,Angkor Thom and my favourite temple, BAYON. While Angkor was dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu God, in Jayavarman VII's reign, we see the start of Thevarada Buddha era. While Angkor is famous for it's sheer size and grandeur, Bayon is well known for it's four faced Buddhas, known as the beginning of Bayon architechture. Here's a peek into how Bayon looks.


Happy weekend everyone :)