Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Cambodia Diaries: Temple of Angkor Wat

We went to Siem Reap in Cambodia to marvel at the archeological wonder that is of Angkor Wat. 

Never mind the religious significance, just looking at the massiveness of the structures and intricacies of the designs like that of the bas-relief are jaw-dropping impressive. Really, really gorgeous architecture. 

Built at a time when the wonders of technology was virtually unheard of, you will see the ingenuity of the designers and the labor that went with building them. I can't imagine the amount of sweat poured out when these were built under the sweltering heat of the sun. 

Although, our guide told us that thousands of elephants and some horses were beasts of burden at the time, still it astounded me. 

The architecture and hydraulic engineering-- the complexity of its planning including how massive water reservoirs were incorporated tell me of an exceptional civilization this side of the world. So close to us (the Philippines). 

The Philippines was not discovered until the 15th century (1521) by Spanish conquerors led by Ferdinand Magellan. Before we that time, we hardly have any relics or artifacts that give us a very good glimpse of the past. One thing impressive that has just been discovered are the collection of intricate jewellery made entirely out of gold. Ha! 

But the Cambodian people has this treasure. And I surmised that it must be a very old civilization as some temples date back to the 9th century.

The Angkor Wat (up close) distinctive of its 5 turrets

The Angkor Wat
We were hoping to catch the sunrise at Angkor Wat. We were at the temple grounds by 5am with thousands of other tourists with the same intent. We saw some serious photographers with multiple high-end DSLR cameras. Unfortunately, the day we came was in vain. The sun refused to show up in its glory.

The Angkor Wat as seen from the hills of Phnom Bakeng Temple.

The Angkor Wat complex sits on a 400-plus hectare land area where smaller temples can also be found. It is surrounded by a wide and large moat (water reservoir/man-made lake), that lends it a romantic feel. However, our guide told us that the King had intended it to be some sort of a water fortress to protect the temple from invaders. 
The Angkor Wat Moat (1500 meters long on the east-west side and 1300 meters wide north-south)

If you've watched the Lara Croft movies, you would notice that the temple has a huge lake surrounding it with boats plying the water routes. In real life though, there is no commercial or pedestrian activity allowed on the lake. Not even for swimming :-)

 In the 90s, extensive restoration works were done and are still being done today. 

Some sections of the temples such as Angkor Wat are cordoned off because of on-going repairs and restoration. Nevertheless, the grandeur and the appeal of the temple are not diminished one bit because of these modern interventions. 

You'd still be amazed. Originally, I planned on just essaying my temple photos and encounters in one post but I changed my mind mid-way. I think all the temples we've visited deserve one post, if only all the photos I and the hubby have taken can do them justice. 



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