01 August, 2009

Siem Reap Province

The Temples of Angkor in Siem Reap

The majestic temple of Angkor in the northwest Cambodia belong to the classic period of Khmer art and civilization. Today, a millennium after they were build, they awe visitor with their perfection and enormity. The temple are the creation of a succession of Khmer King who presided over an empire that dominated most of present day Southeast Asia from 800 to 1430 AD, reaching its peak in the 12th century. The period began with the ascension to the throne by king Jayavarman II. From the 15th century the temples were abandoned by the kings and subsequently forgotten until their " rediscovery " in 1961 by a French explorer. The jungle setting and silence enhance the mystery of the temples. One early discoverer's reaction upon seeing Angkor is not so much different as the feeling of the visitor today "The temple stands solitary and alone in the jungle, in too perfect order to be called a ruin, a relic or a race far ahead of the present".

Angkor Wat
The first half of 12thcentury : King Suryavarman II. The largest of the Angkor group and one of the most intact, is an architectural masterpiece. Its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, reliefs and sculpture make it one of the finest monuments in the world. This temple is and expression of Khmer art at its highest point of development. Some believe Angkor Wat was designed by Divakarapandita, the chief adviser and minister of the king, who was a Brahmin with divine honours. The Khmers attribute the building of Angkor Wat to the divine architect Visvakar man. Construction probably began early in the reign of Suryavarman II and because his name appears posthumously in the bas relief??s and inscriptions it is believed that Angkor Wat was completed after his death. The estimated time for construction of the temple is about 30 year.

Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom, the last capital of Angkor Period (AD 802-1432) until the 15th century, was indeed a Great City as it name implies, and it served as the religious and administrative center of the vast and powerful Khmer Empire. The capital of King Jayavarman VII (AD 1181-1220), Angkor Thom, is a microcosm of the universe divided into four parts by the main axes. Bayon temple stands as the symbolic link between heaven and earth. The wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom represents the stone wall around the universe and the mountain ranges around Meru. The surrounding moat suggests the cosmic ocean. This symbolism is reinforced by the presence of god Indra on his mount, the threeheaded elephant. Angkor Thom is enclosed by an 8-meter-high literate rampart that is laid out on a square grid of 3 kilometers long on each side. A moat with a width of 100 meters surrounds the outer wall. The city is accessed along five great causeways, one in each cardinal direction-Death Gate (east), Dei Chhnang Gate (north), Takao Gate (west), and Tonle Om Gate 18 (south)-plus an additional Victory Gate on the east aligned with the Terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. A tall gopura distinguished by a superstructure of four faces bisects the wall in the center of each side. Four small temples, all called Chhrung temple, stand at each corner of the wall around the city of Angkor Thom. Made of sandstone and designed in a cross plan, the temple built by King Jayavarman VII to worship Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. An inscription tells about its construction.

Ta Prohm
Ta Prohm is the temple that has been left largely in its natural state since its discovery. Surrounded by jungle, its labyrinth of stone hallways is overgrown with the roots and limbs of the massive Banyan trees which envelope the stones like tentacles.

Phnom Ba Kheng
Phnom Ba Kheng Temple was built on a natural hill. Commonly referred to as temple-mountain because it is an earthly facsimile of Mount Meru, it is located on the left side of the road from Angkor Wat to Angkor Thom and attracts scores of tourists who come to watch the sunset or sunrise. The temple was cut from the rock that formed the natural hill and faced with sandstone in the late 9th and early 10th centuries, during the reign of King Yasovarman I8 (AD 889?910), dedicating to Shiva Brahmanism. Phnom Ba Kheng is 65 meters high and the temple has 109 towers. Phnom Ba Kheng temple was a replica of Mount Meru and the number of towers suggests a cosmic symbolism. The seven levels-ground, five tiers, upper terrace of the monument represent the seven heavens of Indra in Brahmanism mythology.

Bantey Srei
This is the fabled pink temple of the women , so called because it is made of pink sandstone and considered a tribute to the beauty of woman. Its small size, delicate carving and remark able state of preservation make Bantey Srei one of everyone's favorite temples. Bantey Srei is located about 32 km from Angkor and it is one of the oldest temples in the region.

Phonm Kole
n and Kbal Spean
This site is regarded by the Khmers as one of the holiest sites because it is located at the origin of the Siem Reap river which was and still is the life giving source or the water that enables the widespread rice cultivation in the area of Angkor. As such it was the basic of the wealth of the civilization, which in its turn provided the resources required to build the temples. At this site one can observe the beautiful rock carving under the surface of the flowing water of Siem Reap river in the sitting of dense jungle.

Roluos Group
The three monuments in the Roluos Group, located 12km. southeast of Siem Reap, offer a look at the earliest definition of khmer civilization. These temples, Bakong, Lolei and Preah ko, were built in the 9th century under Indravarman I. Bakong is also the site of a modern Buddhist monastery.


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