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Published: February 20th 2008
Let's face it. Angkor Wat is the mother of all temples. A 900 year old representation of the Mythical Mt. Meru, the 210 hectare Angkor Wat complex is surrounded by a baray(moat) 1.5km long and 1.5 km wide. The walls are intricately carved with bas reliefs of Hindu creation myths and Khmer epics, while the doorways are coated in Sanskrit and Khmer verses. You walk through perplexed by how this could have been created, and your mind poses questions scaled like a Mandelbrot set:
- Who thought building something of this size was even possible?
- how long did it take to clear 210 hectares of Forest and process the lumber into a city?
- How did these thousands of pounds of stone get moved to the location?
- How did they carve the stones to fit so exact?
- who planned the artwork that was carved into seemingly every square inch of the temple?
- How many expert sculptors did it take to carve it?
The core issue here is not even the temple, it's the otherworldly images of the ancient Khmer people that haunt your imagination. Carvings of dancing girls so intricate you discern eyelashes, water spirits called Nagas with detail in
the scales. Stories of the greatest Khmer kings who led the charge in fighting off invaders, built hundreds of km of roads and hospitals all across present day Cambodia. In fact we know very little of the everyday life of an average Khmer person from the 12th century, as the houses and cities for the people who built the city were made of wood. Stone was only good enough for the gods, and wood was only good enough for disintegration.
Angkor Wat lives up to and exceeds all expectations. It represents the pinnacle of human achievement- physical proof that when humans work together towards a shared goal, anything is possible. You cant help but think about what the grounds were like in the 12th century during a festival- all the moats glistening with water, vendors selling foodstuffs, soldiers with strange weapons. Topless temple dancers, holy men and Royalty.
Last year, the world was asked to vote on The New 7 Wonders of the World. Every winner was justified but one Wonder was missing. Angkor Wat, the Mother of all Temples.
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