The ancient temples at Angkor Wat are instantly recognizable to most people upon seeing it’s impressive entrance profile of multiple conical spires. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat. King Suryavarman II, ruler of the Khmer empire, built this temple in the early 12th century, and it’s survived mostly intact to this day. Some renovations have been completed to return this site to its former majesty.
All photo credits: A.L.Wiltse & M.Charbonneau The park is vast, and open to the elements. In late February/early March, the temperatures soar to 40C with the humidity, with very little areas of shade, so bring your hat, bug spray, long pants (for women) and lots of water. You can buy hats and water onsite if you forget to bring these along.
Aside from this lost art of stone carving, the grounds themselves are majestic. Reflected throughout the temple are many spiritual references. Most are Buddhist, but there are also a surprising large number of Hindu deity statues. Angkor Wat was originally built in homage to the Hindu God Vishnu, one of the three main Hindu gods. Vishnu is the “Operator” god, ensuring that the teachings (or dharma) of spirituality are followed and he also writes the “stories” of people’s lives. The Khmer empire was vast, and as India’s Hindu culture is also ancient, there’s a crossover between the faiths. In fact, the belief in Hinduism is that Buddha was the 9th incarnation of Vishnu….kinda cool how all these original religions mix together and end up reflected in a temple in Cambodia! To close this post, here are some pictures showing the spiritual side of Angkor Wat.