Published: February 4th 2008January 22nd 2008
Angkor Wat just before sunrise
Beautiful at anytime Angkor Wat takes on an ethereal magnificance just before dawn
Be prepared to have your socks blown off if you are wearing any in the heat of Cambodia by making a trip to Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat has a reputation for been one of the most magnificent temples in the world and it will definitely give the Taj Mahal a run for its money (though it is a hefty 40USD for a 3 day pass to visit Angkor Wat and surrounding Temples in the Angkor Archeological Park it is worth it).
Angkor Wat was first on our 3 day exploration of the temples of Angkor that formed part of the capital of Cambodia’s Khemer Empire. It was ambitious, it was spiritual and most of all it was a magnificent feat of skill and art to produce Angkor Wat. It has a rich infusion of both its Hindu beginnings (dedicated to Vishnu) and its later Buddhist devotion.
Angkor Wat is the most famous of the temples at Angkor and built for King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. It epitomises the high classical style of Khmer architecture and remains the best-preserved temple at the site hence a whole blog dedicated to it.
Entry to Angkor Wats outer walls is across a long causeway, where the tourists are watched by Seven Headed Naga (multi headed serpents) balustrade
which symbolically represent the rainbow bridge for man to reach the abode of the gods (which Angkor Wat Represents).
The temple at the centre (Angkor Wat proper) is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, home of the gods in Hindu mythology: the central quincunx of towers symbolises the five peaks of the mountain, and the walls and moat the surrounding mountain ranges and ocean.
Angkor Wat makes an impressive outline against the sky at any time of day but just before sunrise that it takes on an almost ethereal quality against a rich sky awash with gold, pinks and purples just before the golden ball of the sun finally makes appearance over the temples domes.
The temple is admired for the grandeur of architecture but its extensive bas-reliefs and the finely carved devatas (guardian spirits) adorning its gallery walls that leave the tourists gasping and left Rani and I coming back for more. The Bas Relief of the Churning Sea of Milk
is located in the southern section of the East gallery
and is stunning piece of artistry and craftmanship, the 49m bas-relief depicts the gods and asuras (demons) using the body of the giant Naga (multi headed serpent), Vasuki, to turn Mount Mandara at the centre and churn the Cosmic Sea (Sea of Milk) for 1000 years to produce the Elixir of Immortality. So rich and fine and is the detail and stories of this and the other Bas Reliefs that it would be easy for a 1000 years to pass just looking at them or to spend a whole day but with only a 3 day pass and other temples still to visit we only touched on the history and stories to be told in the stretches of stonework art of the galleries around the central enclosure.
In the end we made 3 visits in total and it was still not enough, once during the day until sunset, then an early start for sunrise and again at night when the temple became quieter and was aglow with lights against a velvet black sky.
I am not sure I can due justice in words to the sheer beauty and magnificence of Angkor Wat so I am letting the photos
do the talking though I suspect these also do not really show it in all its glory. And oh what it would have been to have seen Angkor Wat in its infancy when it had just been finished for surely have left you searching for more than just your socks as you looked at the sharp edged freshly carved architecture and adorning stonework. If only I had a time machine as this would surely be one of the places I would visit.
There are more photos below