Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat (City Temple) was built in the Khmer capital city by king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple. It is the largest Hindu temple complex and the largest religious monument in the world. 

Angkor Wat predates the Buddhist temple Bayon built by king Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century (see posting: Angkor Thom and the Bayon).

Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, king Suryavarman II broke with the tradition of previous kings who dedicated their temples to 
the Hindu god Shiva.  

Angkor Wat has remained a significant religious center since its foundation – first Hindu, then Buddhist. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

Angkor Wat is oriented to the west rather than the east. This has led many to conclude that Suryavarman intended it to serve as his funerary temple.

The five towers of Angkor WAt

Sang, our local cambodian guide and Anya, our trip leader

Khmer Rouge bullet holes

The central structure is fashioned like Mount Meru where the Gods live
The stairway to the Mount is very steep
The back staircase: 44 steep steps

Up with the gods

Tower detail

Buddha sitting on the coils of the Naga and protected by it's seven heads

Tower detail, restored

Integrated with the architecture of the building, and one of the causes for its fame is Angkor Wat's extensive decoration, which predominantly takes the form of bas-relief friezes.

Devatas are characteristic of the Angkor Wat style. There are many different headdresses, hand positions, and clothing ornamentation.

Perhaps the artisan's wife insisted that he include his mother-in-law (third from left)

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