Angkor Wat Siem Reap Cambodia February 2014

Angkor Wat Siem Reap Cambodia February 2014

Angkor Wat lies 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at Baphuon. It is in an area of Cambodia where there is an important group of ancient structures. According to one legend, the construction of Angkor Wat was ordered by Indra to act as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as "Varah Vishnu-lok" (literally "Holy Vishnu Location", Old Khmer Cl. Sanskrit") after the presiding deity. Work seems to have ended shortly after the king's death, leaving some of the bas-relief decoration unfinished. In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple (Angkor Thom and the Bayon respectively) a few kilometres to the north. In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned, its preservation being due in part to the fact that its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle. Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. 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.  
 
I woke up early in the morning and arrived at the site in pure dark at about 5:30am, lead by the flashlight of my smartphone as I walked down a 31-foot wide sandstone causeway, down the main entrance on the western side of Angkor Wat. As I navigated my way, I found myself surrounded by travellers as I passed through the main entrance gate of the surrounding water and outer wall, which itself measures 3,363 feet by 2,625 feet. A 1558-foot sandstone pathway continues leading towards the main entrance to the central temple of Angkor Wat. I headed off to the left hand side pool which become my viewing spot for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Flocks of people already there, walking beside me in the dark, and all of us were settling into a large group trying to get the best view of sunrise. The front edge of the pond, the one directly facing the central temple of Angkor Wat, is already filled with a crowd. As the sun began to lighten the sky, the five towers of Angkor Wat appear on the horizon and the tallest of which is 180 feet above the ground. After enjoying the sunrise, I then proceed to go look at the inside of Angkor Wat. Overall, a satisfying experience!

Angkor Wat lies 5.5 kilometres (3.4 mi) north of the modern town of Siem Reap, and a short distance south and slightly east of the previous capital, which was centred at Baphuon. It is in an area of Cambodia where there is an important group of ancient structures. According to one legend, the construction of Angkor Wat was ordered by Indra to act as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea. The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113 c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city. As neither the foundation stela nor any contemporary inscriptions referring to the temple have been found, its original name is unknown, but it may have been known as "Varah Vishnu-lok" (literally "Holy Vishnu Location", Old Khmer Cl. Sanskrit") after the presiding deity. Work seems to have ended shortly after the king's death, leaving some of the bas-relief decoration unfinished. In 1177, approximately 27 years after the death of Suryavarman II, Angkor was sacked by the Chams, the traditional enemies of the Khmer. Thereafter the empire was restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital and state temple (Angkor Thom and the Bayon respectively) a few kilometres to the north. In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned, its preservation being due in part to the fact that its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle. Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. 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.  
 
I woke up early in the morning and arrived at the site in pure dark at about 5:30am, lead by the flashlight of my smartphone as I walked down a 31-foot wide sandstone causeway, down the main entrance on the western side of Angkor Wat. As I navigated my way, I found myself surrounded by travellers as I passed through the main entrance gate of the surrounding water and outer wall, which itself measures 3,363 feet by 2,625 feet. A 1558-foot sandstone pathway continues leading towards the main entrance to the central temple of Angkor Wat. I headed off to the left hand side pool which become my viewing spot for the sunrise at Angkor Wat. Flocks of people already there, walking beside me in the dark, and all of us were settling into a large group trying to get the best view of sunrise. The front edge of the pond, the one directly facing the central temple of Angkor Wat, is already filled with a crowd. As the sun began to lighten the sky, the five towers of Angkor Wat appear on the horizon and the tallest of which is 180 feet above the ground. After enjoying the sunrise, I then proceed to go look at the inside of Angkor Wat. Overall, a satisfying experience!