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Angkor Wat

view from the top of Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world, situated at Angkor, Cambodia, built by King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

As you would expect this UNESCO world heritage site is amazing. It is very large with a huge temple. The carvings are exceptional and numerous. I was there in the slow part of hte season and while there were lots of people, there was plenty of room.

The Ankor Wat temple is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 miles) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. 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.

photo of carvings at Angkor Wat

I went to Angkor Wat on 3 days. I was going elsewhere for a sunset visit (on my first day) but as it was cloudy I decided to go to Angkor instead (saving the sumset for another day) and get some photos in the nice light late in the day. I went to see the sunrise and continued on with my guide. Then I went back late in the afternoon on one of the other days - there was a bit more sun so I hoped for better photos and also it is huge, there is plenty to see.

On that last trip back the tuk tuk driver dropped me off on the far side (opposite the main entrance. It was interesting how differnt that side was. Almost no people, a little bit of a forest to get through. I enjoyed it.

photo of sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at the temple is wonderful though very crowded. You also have to hope you get a sunny or partially sunny day. If you really want to get this try early in your visit so you can try again if it rains. I think early morning is a great time to visit (after watching thethe sunrise), some of the guide books suggest going in the afternoon as the lighting is better. I think they are right about the afternoon being better, on a sunny day, that later in the morning (but early you are probably in good shape).

Integrated with the architecture of the building, and one of the causes for its fame is Angkor Wat's extensive decoration, which predominantly takes the form of bas-relief friezes. The inner walls of the outer gallery bear a series of large-scale scenes mainly depicting episodes from the Hindu epics the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.

Angkor Wat is a world heritage site.

Curious Cat Travels
Curious Cat Travels