Here the itinerary for day two 🙂
I revisited Angkor Wat temple today since I read that the sunrise is breath-taking. I got up at 4 am and headed towards the temple, as recommended to get the sunrise view. Unfortunately, it was not my lucky day for this view, since the sun never actually rose, it was a pretty cloudy morning…, so the only picture I managed to get was one of the murky blue skies. Still gorgeous, so no complaint at all.
The temple was built in a foothill, designed on a 3-pyramid layout rising to 12 m, it represents Mount Meru, dedicated to Shiva, the temple was erected in 961 by King Rajendravarman II. It is only 6 km East of Angkor Thom so naturally was our next point to visit. The temple was unearthed during the 1930s by French George Trouvé who brought the site back to light from its overly nature-overgrown status.
This enormous brick construction symbolises the five mountain peaks of Mount Meru, the sacred mountain in Hindu mythology, its size, height and warm-toned made it an ideal place to witness the beauty of its countryside surroundings.
When I visited, it was still early in the day, and I was the only person at that moment, so I took advantage for some solo photos and to contemplate the atmosphere for a bit before leaving for the next visit.
3- East Mebon:
East Mebon temple was an island, and as such it was only accessible by boat Standing here today, surrounded by trees, palms and so much nature, I found difficult to imagine this temple in the middle of a gigantic reservoir. I learned an artificial body of water created that island through various embankments which contained over 8 million of cubic water. This construction achieved then the deviation and linking of water-flows around Angkor.
I noticed stone lions, which supposed to be the guardians of the temple bordering the platforms. Also, in the four corners of the temple, I observed the beautifully engraved elephants, which show artistic ability.
The temple remains in service, where believers still pray to the Hindu god Indra to ask for rain at the end of the dry monsoon season in April and May, as such, it is common to see offerings of candles and incense around the site.
4- Ta Som:
We passed this relatively quiet site, built in the late 12th century by King Jayavarman VII, on our way to Preah Khan. The temple features three enclosures with big gateways known as “gopuras” and a central sanctuary.
The highlight when visiting this temple is to see the bizarre-view of a strangler fig growing on one of the gopuras. It seems that nature undoubtedly claiming back from space from history.
Along the way, I crossed a central sanctuary and its four corners buildings. Some of the carvings are particularly skilled, especially to those of the female divinities represented in various styles.
5- Neak Pean:
This natural-man made beauty is a large square lake which is surrounded by four smaller ponds. It was built in the second half of the 12th century by king Jayavarman VII, dedicated to Buddhist. It is also believed to have been sacred to Buddha as he reached Nirvana.
The central pond is an imitation of Lake Anavatapta in the Himalayas, which gives way to the four great rivers of the earth. These rivers are signified at Neak Pean by moulded gargoyles corresponding to the four cardinal points Lake Anavatapta, worshipped in India for its healing powers.
6- Preah Khan:
Our last visit of the day, and one of the most impressive to my eyes.
This temple was built following after the defining battle with the Buddhist King of the Chams. This king belonged to a kingdom in what is now Vietnam, in the year 1191.
The victory secured Jayavarman VIII his position into the most significant period of Khmer prosperity. Its name translates to “the Sacred Sword”.
This impressive structure stretches over an area of 56 hectares. The area still has few traces of t Buddhist figures, which changed into a more Hindu style by the King Jayavarman VIII in the 13th century.
The structure was initially built-up with wooden houses and huts, long gone, where ordinary people lived. The inner sanctuaries seem to look overcrowded among the several temple buildings, including a well-preserved Hall of Dancers.
This temple truly impressed me, and all its aesthetics are unique; for moments, it feels that the overgrowing vegetation and giant trees keep swallowing the ruins!.
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“Angkor Wat is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” – António da Madalena, 1586