Sunday, December 23, 2012
We boarded the buses at 8:30 to drive the short distance to Angkor Wat.
Angkor means capital city. Wat is a temple. Angkor Wat was the state temple of the then-capital of the Khmer Empire, built by Suryavarman II in the 12th century as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. It was never completely finished since work was discontinued after Suryavarman II's death, although it continued to be used. In the 13th century it switched over to being a Buddhist temple. After the 16th century it was neglected, but never really abandoned. The French adopted Cambodia as a protectorate in 1863 and by 1901 the Ecole Francaise d’Extreme
Orient (EFEO) took responsibility for cleaning and restoring the site. In time, groups from several countries have sponsored restorations throughout the region.
UNESCO listed the entire Angkor Archaeological area as a World Cultural Site in 1992 and has provided support for tourist safety by means of wooden steps over the eroding stone stairs and literal wood beam supports where needed.
One's impression of Angkor Wat relies on one's expectations. Some visitors expected a restoration of the scale of the Pyramids in Egypt. Others expected crumbling ruins still overrun by tourists and jungle. What is difficult to anticipate is the sheer size of the complex.
You approach Angkor Wat across a causeway bridging a moat:
The naga heads are much eroded:
After crossing the causeway, you reach the outer wall which has five gateways; in the center is the main western gate with a gopura (entrance enclosure or building) in front and a tower above:
Farther north and south are the elephant gates, large enough for an elephant to pass through:
Some detail of the stone carvings:
A pair of libraries are located in this expanse:
The Hindu god Shiva:
Macaca fascicularis/Long-tailed Macaques:
We turned the corner to follow the east wall to the east gate leading to the middle gallery, which looked like the one we just came from!
We had to climb those steps to reach the inner gallery. From there, the steps became steeper to reach the top gallery:
The topmost gallery was an axial gallery within a square gallery. There were towers on the top of the central gallery and each corner, representing the five peaks of Mount Meru.
Kent with the central tower:
Kent and Tamiko with the inner gallery and 4 of the 5 towers:
My camera was fogging up for some reason:
Continue with Siem Reap 3 Angkor Thom.