The Lost World : Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

 

 The Lost World - Escapade to the land of the Khmers

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Overlooking the Mekong river on route to Siem Reap in Cambodia. The Mekong runs through China's Yunnan province, Burma (Myanmar), Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam and is a major trading route between China and South East Asia

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On approach to Siem Reap, as seen below the Ton Le Sap  Lake , in Khmer  literally meaning "Great Lake"  . Its the largest fresh water lake in South East Asia

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 The best way to explore Siem Reap - Tuk Tuk

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The Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. Its a temple dedicated to Vishnu - The Hindu God perceived as the "Preserver". The temples of Siem Reap all follow a unique structure. They are surrounded by a moat which represents the universe and the temple itself represents the Mount Meru - Home of the Gods. There are stone carvings or bas reliefs ( meaning "low relief" describing the shallow depth giving a three dimensional impression ) on the galleries that stretch a total of six hundred meters. These are exquisite work of art representing scenes of Mahabharat and Ramayan ( Two Indian Epics ) and Khmer events

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The gallery of the temple at Angkor. Angkor Wat was built by SURYAVARMAN II (1113 – 1150) The hindu influence on Suryavaraman was supposedly through influence of Indian traders visiting Cambodia during this period. He is regarded as one of the greatest kings of the Khmer era.

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Almost seven feet tall and muscular, he was a leader who led into battles personally often leaving behind his loving wife and son. He was killed in a battle on which he set out to conquer at the age of forty five. It is believed that his body was buried beneath this central tower of the temple

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After Suryavarman II's death, His wife and son ruled for the next ten years continuing to expand the Khmer empire. But their sucessors were less capable leaders and there was a general decline till the revival of the second golden age with the reign of Jayavarman VII. He built the city of Angkor Thom and its glory the Bayon ( above )

Unlike Suryavaraman, Jayavarman was a devotee of Buddhism and Bayon's architecture includes several massive serene looking faces. They resemble faces of Jayavarman himself who identified himself with the Buddha. He improved the quality of life by building barays and hospitals

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A narrow alley inside Bayon. Its peculiar to note that unlike places of worship which caters for a large number of devotees, both Angkor Wat and Bayon are considered residences of God and are not built to cater to a large number of devotees.

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Bayon subsequently underwent numerous transformations to include Hindu elements when the Khmer empire reverted to Hinduism and then again Buddhism

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Looking at the sun set from Phnom Bakheng, another temple dedicated to Shiva ( The Hindu God ). It takes some climbing to get to the top of this hill, but the sun set is worth it. Also from the other end of the look out one can see Angkor Wat ( Apparently this is the place where Lara Croft - Angelina Jolie looks at Angkor Wat after arriving in Cambodia in the movie Tomb Raider )

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Preah Khan meaning Royal Sword in Khmer was also built by Jayavarman VII. But one notices Shiva linga inside which was made as later modifications as it was meant to be residence of Buddha. It was the centre of a substantial organisation, with almost 100,000 officials, servants, dancers and teachers. As you walk towards the temple you will hear a Khmer music which may draw you in like a magnet. It is played by disabled locals who have been land mine victims. Land  mines were laid during the time of Khmer Rouge and are a peculiar  problem in Cambodia. Listen to Khmer music played by these locals

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On the way to Neak Pean ( another temple built by Jayavarman VII ), there are these shallow waters. They are serene and makes a beautiful scene. This could have been used as a reservoir of water for irrigation back in time

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Prae Roup another temple near East Barray dedicated to Shiva

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Ta Prohm - built by Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. The power of nature is on display here as massive trees grows out of the ruined temples completely destroying many of them. The seeds would have seeped through inside the temples along with the flow of rain water resulting in the eventual growth and destruction of the temples

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With some References to Wikipedia

 

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