Angkor Wat, Angkor Wat
The reliefs in the south wing of the West Gallery depict the Battle of Kurukshetra. The Battle of Kurukshetra is the final battle of a war in India between the Pandava princes and their cousins the Kauravas. If you look closely you will see a marching army at either end of the south wing. They meet near the middle and the battle ensures.
The reliefs are well preserved because they are set back along a covered walkway the runs along the outer wall.
The inner causeway connects the outer west entrance with the main temple complex. Parts of this causeway still have the original blocks but most have been replaced. The causeway is 350 meters long and have the temple libraries on either side of the walk way. It is a very impressive approached to the main temple.
Unfortunately there are many people here, especially in the morning. You can go very early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the majority of the crowds. It is extremely difficult to capture a photo without someone standing in the frame.
So much has been written about Angkor Wat, but when i finally arrived there , even i was not prepared for this magnificent structure that was built centuries ago. Anyway, there are many reviews written here so i am just listing a few facts that you may not know.
Angkor Wat is featured on the Cambodian flag, but the only other country with a national monument on their flag is Afghanistan.
Construction of the LARGEST RELIGIOUS MONUMENT in the world started 900 years ago.
Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu (a Hindu Deity) , rather than a king.
In the 13th century Angkor Wat changed from Hindu to Buddhist.
Jackie Kennedy visited Angkor Wat during the Vietnam War.
The ruins are spread out over 400 sq. kms
5 million tonnes of sandstone were carried from 40 kms away to construct the temples
The ruins are rented by a company called Sokimex and only 28% of ticket sales go back in to the temples. Foreign aid provides money for the ruins.
The bricks were bonded together using a vegetable compound instead of mortar
Many of the surfaces on the Angkor temples were painted, but little remains today.
Preah Pisnulok and Vrah Vishnulok are thought to be the earlier names of Angkor Wat.
The Gallery wall has over 1,000 square meters of bas-reliefs
After the Entry Gate, you exit that onto a second causeway. Angkor Wat temple is directly ahead. On either side of this causeway (north and south) are two "Libraries." The to the north has been renovated by a Japanese Archeological team. The one to the north sits in the middle a of a field between the causeway and a body of water where people gather to watch the sunrise.
This is the main entrance to Angkor Wat. At the end of the first causeway is a wide building known as the entry gate. There are three towers. The towers are of varying height because the top sections have long been collapsed. At one point they were of similar look and construction as the 5 main towers of Angkor Wat. The center entrance is wide and high. It is said that it was built this way so that elephants could enter the complex.
So with the waves of people flocking on the west side of Angkor Wat to see if the sun will light up the clouds or break through for a nice orange ball, I decided to try something different. From my experience, I knew the clouds were not going to break and it would not be much of a show this morning.
I walked to the east side of Angkor which was an excellent decision. Believe it or not I was the only person on the other side. To me, this is a great opportunity. When the sun rises it would light up the face of Angkor Wat instead of a shadow on the face from the west side.
It was very special. Something that cannot be told by the photos is the sound of nature. Crickets and frogs sounding off was deafening and very pleasant. This was as much a highlight at the scenery.
Sunrise at Angkor Wat is very special. People take great photos. But what is not mentioned or seen too much in photos is the hoards of people that arrive before sunrise to claim a small piece of sand in front of the lake. I was shocked when I arrived my first day.
And that is the first mistake when going to watch the sunrise. I do not recommend waiting at the ticket counter at 5am so you can get in early. Believe me you will not get there. The trick is to purchase your ticket and go the next day so you are at the lake before 4:30am. Yes, people arrive that early. And I was there in what is considered the low season.
The other problem with getting the perfect picture are some very self absorbed, inconsiderate tourist that feel they need to go tot he temple and mill about being right in you photo as the sun comes up. I was shocked at some people who had no respect for other visitors. Some people only have one chance to visit at sunrise.
I would go again but next time on the second day I have my ticket. I might even where some kind of boot so I can stand a little in the water. That's how many people are there! I couldn't take all the people and the people that would be in my frame so I walked to the other side of Angkor Wat. To me that is where the show is.
The actual Angkor Wat temple complex itself (which is only one of many in the park,) is amazing.
Built early - mid 12th century C.E. by Srryavarman 11 as a Hindu temple.
This temple complex is breathtaking with it's three tiered pyramid, topped with 5 towers.
The Cambodian kids are shy. I see they want to give some kind of greeting but just we are in different languages. I took some photos of the children which always show the nature of childhood, just to share with VT members.
What can be said of Angkor that hasn't been already said. This was my 2nd trip and yes, I did notice changes, and not all for the better. There seems to far more selling inside the Temples than my previous visit when the Temples were treated as Temples. Also the toilet facilities inside Angkor Wat Temple complex, which is the main centre for visitors are nothing short of a disgrace. Having said this most of the other Temples visited have up to date, clean and tidy facilities. Despite the vast number of visitors to the main Temple there are still peaceful areas to be found around the back of the main Temple buildings where one can sit, think and take in the awe inspiring sites that are Angkor Wat.
Visited July 2012
Just like to mention it is best to go as early as possible to avoid the crowds, and even a better idea to start at TA PROHM at Angkor Thom, mainly because all the tour groups seem to visit in a specific order, so i found it particularly busy late morning, but if you go early it will be practically deserted. Ta Prohm is the ruins that have been taken over by the jungle, a real impressive sight with the roots of trees spread over the ruins. Famous for the movie "Tomb-raider"
We started our tour with Angkor Wat. This is just one of the many Angkor temples in Siem Reap. It took us more than one hour to see everything here. The tour guide vividly explained everything we need to know about this place. According to him, this place was built in 12th century. It was built around a moat, which is a large man-made lake which represents the ocean and is connected by a cosway from the dirt road going to the entrance. This Angkor Wat resembles Mount Meru which is believed to be the center of the universe or the home of the gods under Hindu literature. For the best view of this temple, be there during sunset.
We decided to extend our trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia - also thought of celebrating my wife's birthday at Siem Reap after having a great trip in Vietnam. Sunny had a suggested itinerary to ensure we had the best of Siem Reap and Angkor Wat in our 4-day trip.
The 3 day itinerary was well planned. Our tour guide - Bourney and driver came on time. We had a relaxed but well covered itinerary. My wife is an avid photographer and Bourney was able to recommend good spots for photo shots. Also Bourney was very accommodating to make unplanned stops along the way to allow my wife to capture interesting sights along the way. The weather was extremely hot - there was always cold water and cold towers awaiting us when we got to the car.
Bourney speaks English very well and rich knowledgeable - also, he was able share insights on the current lives and issues faced by the people.
We were glad to have him as our tour guide, first timer to Siem Reap and without any planning before - he has done a great job introducing us to the jewels of Siem Reap and the history and culture of this country.
We just got back from our trip to Angkor Wat. Yes there is still a large green vapor and dust barrier sheeting in the same exact spot as seen in the 2010 comment. Though it was an eye sore, it is understandably the same sheeting that is used world wide for any type of restoration. So I don't see it changing anytime soon.
The cost to see the temples were $40(USD)/person for a three day pass. This includes seeing all the following temples in Angkor Wat along with Bantey Srei and the Rolus Group.
We would suggest using two day of the pass to see the small circuit and the grand circuit. Then the last day on Bantey Srei and Rolus Group.
FYI Women: You must wear shirts with sleeves and pants still to climb to the top of Angkor Wat.
My comment would be more about timing. We were there in late feb. The heat is astonding but we had a kind tuk tuk driver and he had no problems with taking us home to swim, shower and eat. He also provided water and coconuts from his own trees at home to help with the heat.
Sophorn phone# 092 49 1644
We took a two to three hour break mid day and still had lots of time to see the temples. Though we did pay extra to start before sunrise and leave at sunset.
If you are hoping for the sun to rise hitting the temple called Angkor Wat in late february you will be disappointed. The smog and humidity don't allow for sunlight to break through till much later in the day. As some would say it was "anticlimatic" I would suggest going in dec or early january for the sunrise on Angkor Wat.
Though the sunset at this time of the year was amazing.
Our next trip will be much earlier just to see the sunrise on Angkor Wat and the Neak Pean oasis of reflection.
We would also like to go earlier cause I would like to explore the temples by bike. In late february it is way to hot. we were not the only one to think this, out of thousands of visitors there were about a total of 20 different bikers that I saw and 15 of them where with the laughing gekko tour.
Side note: biking in Cambodia is extremely safe and the drivers are extremely respectful of bikers.
We were lucky enough to be in Cambodia during the full moon and ended our three day pass at The Rolus Group at Bakong Temple for the full moon. There the monks started celebrating the full moon after the sunset. Which is just as beautiful as the sunset on Pre Rup but much less busy. This temple is extremely underrated. The walk way up to the temple was lined with beautiful flowered trees and the uptake of the temple was more spectacular due to the garden like entrance. The Rolus group also has the school for sandstone carvers. Though they are similar in what they produce at least they aren't machine replicates made in China and goes directly into supporting the students at the school.
Angkor Wat has 2000 dancing heavenly angels -apsaras- carved on almost every surface. A lot are generic, but many look like they are depictions of real women, giggling, grinning, looking down shyly, their characters leaping out from 800 years ago. All the guide books tell you that only one of all of these apsaras is showing her teeth in a smile. This has also been repeated in reviews here but is not true!
To prove it here's a picture of at least one other that I found on a visit two weeks ago, together with the supposedly unique one in all the books. Have a look when you visit and see if you can spot her too!