Posts Tagged ‘ Roluos Group ’

Cambodia – Temples of Angkor 2, March 2011

After seeing the great Angkor Thom, the next stop was Baksei Chamkrong, justP1040980 outside it. There’s a steep flight of steps to climb up, but it’s quite small in area. Great view from the top. Its dedicated to Shiva, but now all the temples have become Buddhist and so all statues are of the Buddha.

Close to this is the Phnom Bakheng, or central mountain. There’s a 20 minute easy climb uphill to the top where there’s a temple, and what’s unique about this is that you can see the Angkor Wat from the top of the temple. The P1040996temple at Phnom Bakheng was constructed more than 2 centuries before the Angkor Wat. I went in the afternoon, when it was fairly quiet. Its extremely crowded at sunset because there’s a good view. But the steps to climb to the top of the temple are very steep and no more than one person can climb at a time so its single file, which adds to the crowding. I enjoyed this because of the panoramic views.

So after all this, it was time for the famous Angkor Wat! There’s a moat with large body of P1050040water at the entrance, The entrance itself involves a long walkway to the main doorway and then an equally long walkway inside upto the main temple. Its imposing simply in the area it covers and how sprawling the grounds and the structures are. Angkor Wat means city temple. It was built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world’s largest religious building.

It’s difficult to understand where to begin here! But eventually I followed the typical route of seeing all the bas-reliefs that line the outer wall of the temple counter-clockwise, then movingP1050054 to the inner area and so on until I reached the central area with the towers. Just looking at everything that has gone into the creation of this temple is mind boggling. The bas-reliefs are detailed and fill the entire length of each wall. There’s the concluding episode of the Mahabharata, scene from the Ramayana, the depiction of the Churning of the Sea of Milk and P1050130many more. The detailing on each would be impossible to assimilate in a single visit. The inner areas have many terraces and pillars leading to the central tower which has 4 different Buddhas. The view from this section of the entire Angkor Wat shows the vastness of space. Easily spend a few hours here so save enough time for it as it closes in the evening. This is a place that you can lose yourself in! Its magical.

On my last day, I thought I would squeeze in some time and go see the temples of the Roluos Group. Lolei, Preah Ko & Bakong were some of the earliest permanent structures built by theP1050279 Khmer. They mark the beginning of classical period of Khmer civilization, from the late 9th century. Not in as good a condition as the other temples, they are nevertheless worth a trip to see how the temple styles evolved. The most picturesque is the Bakong which was the official state temple of the King Indravarman I. It is situated on a river & has a lovely garden & so makes for a pretty sight.

This concluded a beautiful and memorable trip to Siem Reap. It has stayed in my mind since then and the effect it has is quite frankly hard to forget. Perhaps just like Bhutan has stayed in my mind – its the combined effect of monuments and nature. While I soaked in so many temples on my trip, it definitely warrants another visit at a different time of the year. After monsoon and in the onset of winter, because the water bodies at most temples are full and you can see it in completely different light as well as get some spectacular views during sunrise and sunset. Someday, I will be back in Siem Reap.

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