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Angkor Wat - Cambodia

Sunrise, Angkor Wat Bas Relief GalleryAngkor Wat

Ankor Wat is the greatest and most well known of the temples of Angkor. Dating from the 12th Century this huge temple complex represents the highest point of Khmer art and culture. The temple has been in continuous use since then and never lost to the jungle as the other temples in the area were.

The temple is surrounded by a moat 2km on each side. A connecting causeway is flanked by naga serpents and leads you to the gateway through which you have your first glimpse of the temple itself. The inner temple is built in concentric galleries, building inwards and upwards to form a representation of the holy mountain of Hindu mythology, Mount Meru.

The outer gallery is lined with intricate carvings, covering almost 700m of passageways. These illustrate Hindu stories, battle scenes and other aspects of mythology. The greatest of these is the massive representaion of the creation story - the 'Churning of the Sea of Milk' - where gods and evil spirits churn the ocean with the help of a giant serpent. This has hundreds of figures, all with unique faces, carved in intricate detail.

Steep stairs lead you further into the temple with the final level having the distinctive conical towers at each corner. This gives panoramic views of the complex and temples beyond.

The temple is best viewed first at sunset where the low sun turns the grey stone golden, highlighting the texture of the towers. Sunrise is also a very popular time to visit - the gradually lightening sky behind the temple is truly magical to see, with stunning reflections from the two ponds. It's also possible to see most of this temple once the sun has risen - and before the tour groups arrive.

 

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