Angkor Temples

Angkor is a huge area, covering more than 100 square kilometer and more than 1000 temples. Some of them are totally ruined, in some cases only a few columns are still standing, but those most known and most visited temples are quite well preserved and are being renovated all the time. A few quick facts about the area and the temples: they are really, really old - they were built in the era between 9th - 13th century! Why so many temples? Well, currently the most believed idea is that every kind of this area built his own temple, which served him as a place to pray, while the king was alive, and after his death the temple became his vault. So with a tomb inside the temple, the new king couldn't use it anymore, and had to build another one.

Angkor Wat in the morning sun
By the 15th century all the temples were deserted and slowly the jungle started to overgrow them. Many theories can be heard about the reason for abandoning the temples. Some say that the area simply couldn't support the people with natural resources anymore as a consequence of such extensive construction works. So people started to emigrate. Next theory says that Thai army (Ayutthaya) conquered the area and destroyed the temples. And the third theory supports the idea of natural disaster (like a disease, earthquake or something similar.

The temples were then rediscovered by European missionaries in 19th century, followed by a mass of French archaeologists, who cleaned the temples and started studying them. Nowadays temples are the main tourist attraction in Cambodia, who attract about 2 million people every year!

Here you can see how jungle has overgrown the temples
Angkor Wat sees the biggest mass of tourists at sunrise - so we skipped it and stayed in bed a bit longer :) Later we rented a tandem bike and cycled our way to the temple at around 8am. It was the perfect time in our opinion. The sun was still rather low on the horizon, so the light was great for photos and it wasn't hot yet. And even better: the crowds have gone discovering other temples, so there were just us and a few other people in Angkot Wat that morning.
I have to admit: seeing Angkot Wat is something special, the view is mystical and the size, the sculptures, reliefs, long halls, ruined parts, steep stairs ... just wow! How did they build it? How could they make the reliefs so detailed? It is really amazing and breathtaking. And then you look from the top of the temple, and what you see? Jungle, jungle everywhere.

Jungle starts just outside the temples.
Brsides Angkor Wat we also visited other temples. Byron is known for it's wall decorations with faces, Ta Prohm became famous after filming Tomb Rider with Angelina Jolie there, but our favorite temple was Preah Khan - a bit less touristy, but still very impressive.

Details! Inner wall in Preah Khan
Ruins of Preah Khan
Inner courtyard, Preah Khan
Climbing up the highest temple in Angkor - Ta Keo
Ancient decorations are also on the bridge!

Katarina in Angkor Wat
Once more: Katarina in Angkor Wat

Famous face in Byron temple

Relief in Byron
We are trying to look like that relief :)

Sunset from Phnom Bakheng temple



No comments:

Post a Comment