Angkor Wat is to most people what Siem Reap is all about. Well, we planned our visit not at sunrise as many do but none the less had an early start at 7.00 ish with our trusty tuk-tuk driver Phally (Paulie) to save our feet and act as guide. Angkor Wat is not that far out of town and in the Angkor Archeological Park. Fees paid, US $20.00 per person per day, photo taken and embedded on ticket, nice cheap souvenir and we were off on temple viewing expedition.
Stretching over some 400 square kilometres, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries, including the largest pre-industrial city in the world. The most famous of which is the Temple of Angkor Wat. Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. At the same time, it was also placed on the List of World Heritage in Danger due to looting, a declining water table, and unsustainable tourism. UNESCO has now set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.
Angkor Wat is one of the largest of Khmer monuments. Built around the first half of 12th century by King Suryavarman II, the temple’s balance, composition and beauty make it one of the finest monuments in the world.It is a massive three tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus like towers and rising 65 metres from ground level.
Unlike other temples at Angkor, Ta Prohm has been left as it was found, preserved as an example of what a tropical forest will do to an architectural monument when the protective hands of humans are withdrawn. Ta Prohm’s walls, roofs, chambers and courtyards have been sufficiently repaired to stop further deterioration, and the inner sanctuary has been cleared of bushes and thick undergrowth, but the temple has been left in the stranglehold of trees. Having planted themselves centuries ago, the tree’s serpentine roots pry apart the ancient stones and their immense trunks straddle the once bustling Buddhist temple. Built in the later part of the 12th century by Jayavarman VII.
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