Visit Angkor Wat’s Cambodia Temples

July 17, 2013 by

Angkor Wat aerial view.

Angkor Wat aerial view.

Cambodia is an exotic destination in Southeast Asia that dates back to 612 AD, and the temples of Angkor Wat are among the most beautiful and haunting touristic sights in the world.

Ancient City of Angkor

The ancient city of Angkor was once the capital of the ancient Khmer Empire and one of the largest cities in the world. At its height, the population of this great city swelled to one million.

The expansive complex of buildings spanned around 600 square kilometers between the Tonle Sap Lake and the Kulen Mountains in Cambodia, until it was destroyed by Siamese troops in 1431.

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat Temples

Hundreds of temples survive today. Some are but a skeleton of the vast political, religious and social center from those ancient times, but many of the temples of Angkor have been restored.

Angkor Wat Temple

The largest of the temples in Angkor is the Angkor Wat which means City Temple. It’s a huge structure covering 494 acres. Tourists have the opportunity to take in bas-reliefs encircling the temple’s first level which depict Hindu epics.

Ta Keo

Ta Keo is unique for more than one reason. It was built as the state temple of Jayavarman V, son of Rajendravarman, when he was 17, but it was never completed. According to legend, the temple was struck by lightning during its construction.

While the main structure was finished, no external carvings were added. It is also unique in that it is constructed of green sandstone rather than the brown, gray, and pink colors of the other temples of Angkor.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm

Banteay Kdei

The Banteay Kdei was a Buddhist monastery probably built in the 12th century. Little is known about this mysterious temple. It was hidden by vegetarian for centuries following the collapse of the Khmer Empire.

Pre Rup

Pre Rup is a large temple with three central spires. It looks somewhat like a mini Angkor Wat. It was built as the state temple of king Rajendravarman in 961 and dedicated to Shiva. It’s built of gray sandstone, and while it is a crumbling temple, it is still magnificent in size and structure.

Preah Khan

The temple of Preah Kahn is one of the biggest complexes at Angkor and remains largely unrestored, with numerous trees growing among the ruins. Preah Khan was both a Buddhist and Hindu temple. It features 4 ceremonial walkways that lead to the gates of the temple.

Phnom Bakheng

Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu temple built on the top of a hill in the shape of a temple mountain. It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital and dates back to the end of the 9th century.

The temple faces east and rests on a pyramid form of six tiers. The original structure had 108 small towers surrounding the temple but only a few of them remain. This is a favorite for tourists with its stunning sunset views.

Banteay Srei

The Banteay Srei is located about 20 miles from the main group of temples. It’s the only temple in Angkor that was not commissioned by a king. Instead it was commissioned by a Brahmin named Yajnavaraha.

It is built of fine-grained rose pink sandstone and boasts elaborately decorated walls with floral motifs and epic Ramayana scenes.

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was built after the unsuspected sacking of Angkor by the Chams. The massive walls had a sanctuary tower at each corner, and 5 entry gates. Beyond the massive walls is a huge moat.

The causeway leading to the South gage is flanked by 54 gods and 54 demons popular in the Hindu legend “The Churning of the Ocean of Milk.”

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is a favorite for photos with the jungle overtaking the remains as trees grow out of the ruins. It’s reminiscent of an India Jones adventure. This is one of the few temples in Angkor that bear an inscription which provides information about the temple‚Äôs inhabitants. It was home to more than 12,500 people.

Bayon Temple

The Bayon temple features more than 200 massive stone faces. These peculiar smiling faces are thought to be a portrait of king Jayavarman VII or perhaps a combination of the king and Buddha.

This temple is the only state temple at Angkor built as a Mahayana Buddhist shrine.

The temple climbs through 3 levels to a height of 140 feet. The outer gallery offers a rich look at scenes from everyday life and historical events. The inner gallery depicts mythical figures and stories. The famous faces are found on the third level.

Along with these historical landmarks, Angkor Wat also features pristine beaches, museums, unique nature and churches.

Photo credits: Mark Fischer, victoriapeckham, Allie_Caulfield

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