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ANGKOR WAT

July 10
23:32 2013

ANGKOR WATWonder of the world & largest Hindu temple

SIEM REAP, Cambodia: (Day One) Our trip started with a brief stopover in Bangkok from Delhi and an hour-long flight on Angkor Air to Siem Reap, Cambodia. We could hardly believe that we would be witnessing the wonderful temple and architecture of Angkor Wat. Angkor was the site of a series of capitals belonging to the Khmer empire for much of the ninth through fifteenth centuries.

These ruins are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap), near present day Siem Reap, Cambodia, covering more than 200 sq kms. The temples of Angkor, now partially restored, constitute the premier collection of Khmer art and architecture.
The day ended with dinner and a cultural show on Ramayana.

Day Two: Of course one cannot see the entire capital in just few days. So we picked a few important sections. The main Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple. There are several tour guides available and it is advisable to take one who understands history and language. As there are so many temples and buildings one gets confused.

The resplendent monuments of the Khmer were constructed from AD 879-1191, although the site itself was inhabited by the Khmers from AD 802 through AD 1431. Yet it was during the twelfth century, when the last temples were built that the Khmers reached their peak during the reigns of Suryavarman II and Jayavarman VII.

Jayavarman VII depleted the kingdom’s resources with his extravagant lifestyle. This resulted in societal displeasure as well as the gradual decline of the ever-important irrigation system as resources were being diverted elsewhere for his temples of grandeur.

By the late thirteenth and early fourteenth century, the society of the Khmers underwent a major change as the state religion shifted to Theravada Buddhism. With this, a new way to unify and administer the people needed to be established.

As all these effects took hold of the Khmer, their neighboring enemies grew stronger and began to attack Angkor. Finally, in AD 1431 the Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya was successful in a siege of Angkor after seven months of battle. The raiders destroyed many statues. During the reign of Khmer Rouge also, many idols were destroyed. In 1432 the Khmers moved their capital south, but the empire and the city of Angkor never regained their glory.

ANGKOR WAT2 The world’s largest religious structure, Angkor Wat was built AD 1113-1150 (37 years of construction by an estimated 50,000 artisans, workers and slaves) by Suryavarman II and dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. It is the largest and one of the most intact structures in Angkor and is considered an architectural masterpiece – and one of the finest monuments in the world – for its perfection in composition, balance, proportions, reliefs and sculptures.

It is an expression of Khmer art at the height of its development. Uniquely, the entrance is to the west instead of the east, as in all the other temples at Angkor. Overtime this Hindu
We took a short break for lunch, close to the site and continued our tour. The tour ended with a heavy downpour while returning to the hotel.temple became a Buddhist shrine.

Day three: A full day trip to Phnom Kulen waterfall which is about 60 km from Siem Reap situated amongst low lying mountains. We visited a reclining Buddha on top of the mountain and spend few hours at the water fall below. You will also find a thousand Shivlings carved out into the river bed. The locals believe that all your sins will be washed away once you take a dip in the river.

While on this trip, you will come across several farming villages selling bamboo baskets etc.

The evening ended with a visit to the night bazaar in central Siem Reap. Wonderful for shopping and excellent eatery joints with bargain prices, not to mention of foot massages for only two dollars.

It is by far the most amazing place one can visit and see how the Indian heritage has traveled and made impressions on many South Asian countries like Cambodia, Burma, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand.

Next time you visit Angkor, please make sure you carry a pair of sun glasses, good walking shoes and caps or umbrellas especially during summer months. US dollar is widely used and preferred currency over the local one. There are good bargain hotels everywhere

including five star hotels with prices ranging from eighty to hundred dollars or so.

How to reach

Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia is connected by direct flights from Bangkok, Singapore, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Ho Chi Minh City, Vientiane and Guangzhou. Direct flight to Siem Reap, where Angkor Wat is located, is available from Bangkok and Singapore. Visitors coming from Thailand and Vietnam can also reach by road. From Phnom Penh, Siem Reap can also be reached over river in six hours.

ANGKOR WAT1

Angkor Wat lies 5.5 kms north of the modern city of Siem Reap. The Siem Reap area is not very large and you can easily cover it in a bicycle. Motorcycles are another option. If you are in a group, Tuk tuk is the best option. It is a motorcycle with a hooded carriage and an efficient mode of transport. Cars and vans can also be hired.

KRISHAN SHARMA
India Post News Service

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