Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Given the horrors, the genocide, the coups, the mass protests, and the only relatively recently passed bill making it illegal to deny that atrocities were committed by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, we have found this place peaceful, full of friendly, warm people. And the more historically distant Khmer Empire, architecturally stunning, spiritually intriguing ( with its mix of Hinduism and Buddhism) and culturally well documented (huge galleries of bas-relief depicting life from the mundane to mythological to war and conquest).
Within the walled city of Angkor Thom (3 km long walls on each side), we explored:
- The heart of Angkor Thom, the Bayon, (end of 12th century), dedicated to Buddha, with its 54 towers, many carved with huge, serene faces on their four sides, and its galleries of deep bas-relief intricate stories of processions, fishing, making rice, kingly life, boar fights...
- Baphuon (1060), dedicated to Shiva by the Hindu King, with much focus on Shiva's lingam, over which water was poured to make holy water for vitality.
-Pre Rup (961) for sunset and full moon rise. Also dedicated to Shiva. The five towers represent the five mountains on which Shiva meditated. In one corner tower, the roof was open to allow the sun and rain to pour down onto a large lingam to create blessed water. The entrance was guarded by two female devas.
- We learned about the guardian naga (snake) and lion.
Angkor Wat & Ta Phrom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
So much to learn about this country's history and culture.
Angkor Wat 1113 - 1431
We rose for sunrise at The largest Hindu temple in the world. Dedicated to Vishnu. Architecture is both the temple mountain style (center) and gallery temple style (the surrounds). Purported to represent Mount Meru, the home of the devas. Many (2000?) dancing devas or Asparas are carved into its posts. The long bas-relief galleries included a story of Yama, god of death, justice, determining who would go to the 37 heaven and who to the, gruesomely depicted, 32 hella. Rather Dantesque. And the story of uncurling the Naga (snake) body to churn the ocean for milk (or holy water). It was a holy day with monks giving blessings to visitors.
Ta Phrom 1186
This site is left as the French found it in the early 1900s, with the iconic banyan, fig and kapok trees growing over and between the lava rocks and sandstone.
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