Saturday, June 28, 2014

Siem Reap : The Ruins of Angkor Wat

Blocked Causeway leading to the Temples

This will be a long post about the Temples of Angkor Wat so I advise that you take a look at the photos first and if you still have time to spend, please feel free to read my story about the most photographed Khmer monument in Cambodia.

Galleries of Bas Relief

A lot has already been written about Angkor Wat be it on a historical or religious or even romantic perspective. After all, the general appearance of the wonder of the temple is both beautiful and romantic and also impressive and grand it must be seen to be understood and appreciated. One can never look upon the ensemble of the wat without a thrill, a pause, a feeling of being caught up onto the heavens.

Battle of Kurukshetra

Angkor Wat is an architectural masterpiece. It is the largest monument of the Angkor group and the best preserved. It was first a Hindu, then subsequently a Buddhist temple. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, relief's and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world. "Wat" means temple in Khmer which was probably added to "Angkor" when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument. When the capital moved to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat was cared for by Buddhist monks.

Image of Apsara

"Eye-Busying" Architectural Line

Awesome Galleries

It is generally accepted that Angkor Wat was a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the west to conform to the symbolism between the setting sun and death. The bas-reliefs, designed for viewing from left to right in the order of Hindu funereal ritual, support this function.

Of Gods and Women

Angkor Wat is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central tower rises from the center of the monument symbolizing the mythical mountain, Meru, situated at the center of the universe. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru. The outer wall corresponds to the mountains at the edge of the world, and the surrounding moat the oceans beyond.

Indoor Bathing Area

Decorated Tympanums

So Much To See
After walking through the long concrete causeway or bridge over the surrounding moat, I came to the entrance arcade of the temple. I need to walk further across minor temples to reach the main temple complex. The main temple complex is like a fort with pinnacles at four corners. In the middle of the complex is the main temple pinnacle. I have to climb up and walk down the steel ladder at its western side. After climbing up the top, I walked through the corridor joining the four sides of the main pinnacle. Peaking at the windows while catching my breath... ahh, it was all worth it.

Even Ruined Pieces on the Ground has Character

No matter which way you go, left, right, forward or backward, (you would probably get lost wandering anyways), there will always be an interesting sight that will keep your eyes and mind busy. From the harmony of the facade to the unbroken stretch of repeated pillars leading from the far angles of the structure to the central opening, which is dominated, by three imposing towers with broken summits.

The Temple of Angkor Wat

Little Backpackers

Sculptured Walls never look So Great

From the columns to the bas reliefs embosses on almost every walls, the intricate sculptures and mind-boggling engineering designs of odd shapes. Some of the pillars in the galleries of this courtyard have inscriptions written in Sanskrit and Khmer. There is a gallery of the Gallery of 1,000 Buddha's that once contained many images dating from the period when Angkor Wat was Backlist. There is also a Hall of Echoes, so named because of its unusual acoustics.

Window-view from the Temple

As Candee wrote, "By their beauty they first attract, by their strangeness they hold attention". The Gallery of Bas-reliefs, surrounding the first level of Angkor Wat, contains 1,200 square meters of sandstone carvings. The relief covers most of the inner wall of all four sides of the gallery and extend for two meters from top to bottom. The detail, quality composition and execution give them an unequaled status in world art. Columns along the outer wall of the gallery create an intriguing interplay of light and shadow on the relief. The effect is one of textured wallpaper that looks like the work of painters rather than sculptors' The bas-reliefs are of dazzling rich decoration-always kept in check, never allowed to run unbridled over wall and ceiling possess strength and repose, imagination and power of fantasy, wherever one looks.

So Much to See, So Much to Talk About

Mirror Image

Headless God

The sheer size of Angkor Wat assaults the senses. I can only imagine the thousands of artisans employed to bring Angkor Wat to life. And because of it popularity, do expect huge crowds at almost any time of day. The weather there is very humid and hot so be ready to sweat a lot. Or better yet, you could go very early in the morning to catch the sunrise and visit the complex afterwards to escape the heat and the crowds.

The Angkor Wat Reflected

Lastly, the more days you can spend, the better. If you go alone rather than with a group, you may be able to see more and get better photos. You get the best photos when you don't have to keep up with a group. You could go one day with a group to get an overview then come back on your own. If you go on your own, it is cheap to get a tuk-tuk taxi and the driver will wait for you an hour or two depending on how much you pay. Bring plenty of cards and batteries for your camera. There is a stunning photo op every few steps.

Time to Go Down


  1. I have read and been fascinated by Angkor Wat for many years, but this is the best yet, Oman!! Thank you so much for sharing the photos and the history/information! Such a terrific post/photos!!

  2. This is an amazing place and you did justice showing this place to us. Just beautiful.

  3. Nice post and photos, I am heading there next month. :)

  4. I must say that those sculptures on the wall or bas relief are just extra ordinary. Must have taken them hundred years to finish it all.

  5. A must visit. I just hope Asia isn't so far away.

  6. Haha. Ganda ng mga kuha atty. :) Bakit sabi nila hindi daw maganda? Maganda naman pala. hehe. Worth visiting. Pahiram po ng book niyo ha. haha.

  7. What an epic post. I enjoy looking at the photos.

  8. i'm visiting cambodia this september, thank you for this post!