Angkor Complex – The World’s Most Magnificent Remains
by Ngoc Van Jul 22, 2017
Angkor Complex is 6 km from the centre of Siem Reap, Cambodia. It contains the remains of Khmer from the 9th to 15th centuries, was stated a World Heritage site in 1992 and has been protected by UNESCO. This Angkor Complex is not only a point of pilgrimage of all Cambodians but also a popular destination of travellers.
It is said that Angkor used to be the largest pre-industry city in the world. The temples of Angkor has the areas of over one thousand and are highly symbolic structures with the perfect fusion of creation and spiritual devotion. Many of the temples have been restored, but still keep the most significant Khmer structures.
Angkor Wat was built within 30 years in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II and is considered as one of the world’s finest monuments. The wat is now worshiping Buddhism instead of Hinduism as the origin. One of outstanding things is that the entrance of this temple orients the West known as the direction of death. The main material of the structure is sandstone blocks from Phnom Kulen mountain and moved along Siem Reap river. The Khmer used an unknown substance having functions of cement to link sandstone blocks and create the wat’s shape. That a wide moat encloses Angkor Wat looks like the ocean surrounding the earth and creates “the model of cosmic world”. In addition, the rectangular outer walls features complicated carvings and sculptures of the ancient’s daily life or apsara dancers, etc.. The temple central area is divided into 3 storeys symbolizing “universes of Hindu cosmology”. Visitors will find 5 like-lotus towers with one in the centre at the corners of the second and third floors. Tourists can access to the top of the towers, a symbol of Mount Meru by climbing the stairs outside the wat.
Angkor Thom meaning Great City in Khmer language was constructed by Jayavarman VII – the Angkor’s greatest King. Like other many temples in the Angkor Complex, the wat is covered by the stone walls on the square shape surrounded by the moat. The building includes 5 entrance gates instead of 4 as other wats, two gates in the East. Based on Bayon style, they comes with 23m-high sandstone, 4 huge stone faces in the top and elephant’s trunk pillar. The attractive structure in this area is Bayon ancient temple which represents for Mount Meru – home of God enclosed by cosmic ocean, is a great combination between Hinduism and Buddhist and contains 54 small towers with 4 unexplained smiling faces in each. Moreover, there are a variety of interesting structures which are worth spending time such as Terrace of Elephants with imagines of elephants, lions, 5-head hoes, dancers and warriors; and the Hindu temple of Phimeanakas with 3-tier pyramid shape.
Beside Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, there are a number of mysterious sites in Angkor Complex like Little Circuit and Big Circuit which consist of the major places to the East and North of Angkor Thom, respectively. The first site suggested in the Little Circuit is Ta Prohm temple where the trees and stonework are interwound together and make the excellent mixture of wood and stone. The majority of stunning postcard photos of Angkor’s trees come from here. Due to the temple’s status of instability, authorities began to restore it in 2010. Furthermore, a little temple of Prasat Kravan is dedicated to Vishnu and features 5 red, symmetrical and brick towers. Going inside, you will see some large bas-reliefs of Vishunu and carvings of Lakshimi on the walls. The new bricks with “CA” meaning conservation Angkor are evidences of restoration. Next, in Big Circuit, Preah Khan is the first capital of Jayavarman VII before the completion of Angkor Wat. The temple is quite large, atmospheric and has some impressive carvings. Neak Pean is not seen as a temple because of its structure: 4 ponds enclose a large pond. Hereby, it usually plays a role of relaxing quick stop.
Ta Prohm temple
Angkor Complex still keeps its own uncovered secrets and contains various remarkable temples as well as structures. Make a plan to contemplate and explore the old city of Angkor on our Cambodia River Cruises.
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