Angkor Wat (Khmer: អង្គរវត្ត) was first a Hindu, then subsequently, a Buddhist temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century in Yasodharapura (Khmer: យសោធរបុរៈ, present-day Angkor), the capital of the Khmer Empire, as his state temple and eventual mausoleum.
Breaking from the Shaivism tradition of previous kings, Angkor Wat was instead dedicated to Vishnu. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian Architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next.
At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs, and for the numerous devatas adorning its walls.The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "Temple City" or "City of Temples" in Khmer; Angkor, meaning "city" or "capital city", is a vernacular form of the word nokor (នគរ), which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara. Wat is the Khmer word for "temple grounds", derived from the Pali word "vatta" (वत्त). Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok (Vara Vishnuloka in Sanskrit), after the posthumous title of its founder
Angkor Thom (Khmer: អង្គរធំ; literally: "Great City"), located in present day Cambodia, was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. It was established in the late twelfth century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman's state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.Angkor Thom was established as the capital of Jayavarman VII's empire, and was the centre of his massive building programme.
One inscription found in the city refers to Jayavarman as the groom and the city as his bride.:121 Angkor Thom seems not to be the first Khmer capital on the site, however. Yasodharapura, dating from three centuries earlier, was centred slightly further northwest, and Angkor Thom overlapped parts of it. The most notable earlier temples within the city are the former state temple of Baphuon, and Phimeanakas, which was incorporated into the Royal Palace. The Khmers did not draw any clear distinctions between Angkor Thom and Yashodharapura: even in the fourteenth century an inscription used the earlier name.:138 The name of Angkor Thom—great city—was in use from the 16th century.
Faces on Prasat Bayon
The last temple known to have been constructed in Angkor Thom was Mangalartha, which was dedicated in 1295. Thereafter the existing structures continued to be modified from time to time, but any new creations were in perishable materials and have not survived. In the following centuries Angkor Thom remained the capital of a kingdom in decline until it was abandoned some time prior to 1609, when an early western visitor wrote of an uninhabited city, "as fantastic as the Atlantis of Plato".:140 It is believed to have sustained a population of 80,000–150,000 people.
Ta Prohm (Khmer: ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម)is the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara (in Khmer: រាជវិហារ). Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors.
UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992. Today, it is one of the most visited complexes in Cambodia’s Angkor region. The conservation and restoration of Ta Prohm is a partnership project of the Archaeological Survey of India and the APSARA (Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap).
In the evening in Siem Reap, Cambodia - once people have returned from the temples of Angkor, had a shower and freshened up - the attention switches over to ‘Pub Street’ and the pub street alleys in the Old Market Area.
Pub Street earned its name from the numerous pubs that line Street 8 and also contains various restaurants, boutiques and shops, but the main focus is certainly on filling up with some food and then hitting the cocktails. The action kicks off at around 17:00hrs once people have returned from the temples. The street is cordoned off to allow tourists to roam freely without the dangers of traffic, and the music begins to get louder as more and more people frequent the bars.
Many of the bars are open until midnight while a few are open until the early hours of the morning, which include ‘Angkor What?’, ‘Temple Club’ and ‘X-Bar’. Nearly every bar or restaurant here will offer happy hour beers for 50 cents and cheap cocktails, but it seems that it is happy hour every hour of every day so you can expect to pound a few brews for next to nothing, no matter when you get there. Pub Street is aimed directly at western tourists, so don’t go there expecting a genuine Cambodian experience.
Phnom Bakheng (Khmer: ប្រាសាទភ្នំបាខែង) at Angkor, Cambodia, is a Hindu temple in the form of a temple mountain. Dedicated to Shiva, it was built at the end of the 9th century, during the reign of King Yasovarman (889-910). Located atop a hill, it is nowadays a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger temple Angkor Wat, which lies amid the jungle about 1.5 km to the southeast. The large number of visitors makes Phnom Bakheng one of the most threatened monuments of Angkor. Since 2004, World Monuments Fund has been working to conserve the temple in partnership with APSARA.
Constructed more than two centuries before Angkor Wat, Phnom Bakheng was in its day the principal temple of the Angkor region, historians believe. It was the architectural centerpiece of a new capital, Yasodharapura, that Yasovarman built when he moved the court from the capital Hariharalaya in the Roluos area located to the southeast.
An inscription dated 1052 AD and found at the Sdok Kak Thom temple in present-day Thailand states in Sanskrit: "When Sri Yasovardhana became king under the name of Yasovarman, the able Vamasiva continued as his guru. By the king's order, he set up a linga on Sri Yasodharagiri, a mountain equal in beauty to the king of mountains." Scholars believe that this passage refers to the consecration of the Phnom Bakheng temple approximately a century and a half earlier.
Surrounding the mount and temple, labor teams built an outer moat. Avenues radiated out in the four cardinal directions from the mount. A causeway ran in a northwest-southeast orientation from the old capital area to the east section of the new capital's outer moat and then, turning to an east-west orientation, connected directly to the east entrance of the temple.
Phnom Bakheng is a symbolic representation of Mount Meru, home of the Hindu gods, a status emphasized by the temple’s location atop a steep hill. The temple faces east, measures 76 meters square at its base and is built in a pyramid form of six tiers. At the top level, five sandstone sanctuaries, in various states of repair, stand in a quincunx pattern—one in the center and one at each corner of the level’s square. Originally, 108 small towers were arrayed around the temple at ground level and on various of its tiers; most of them have collapsed.
Jean Filliozat of the Ecole Francaise, a leading authority on Indian cosmology and astronomy, interpreted the symbolism of the temple. The temple sits on a rectangular base and rises in five levels and is crowned by five main towers. One hundred four smaller towers are distributed over the lower four levels, placed so symmetrically that only 33 can be seen from the center of any side. Thirty-three is the number of gods who dwelt on Mount Meru.
The Terrace of the Elephants (Khmer: ព្រះលានជល់ដំរី) is part of the walled city of Angkor Thom, a ruined temple complex in Cambodia. The terrace was used by Angkor's king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. It was attached to the palace of Phimeanakas (Khmer: ប្រាសាទភិមានអាកាស), of which only a few ruins remain. Most of the original structure was made of organic material and has long since disappeared.
Most of what remains are the foundation platforms of the complex. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.
The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall. It has five outworks extending towards the Central Square-three in the centre and one at each end. The middle section of the retaining wall is decorated with life size garuda and lions; towards either end are the two parts of the famous parade of elephants complete with their Khmer mahouts.
Cambodian Cultural Village (CCV) is a theme park and museum in Siem Reap, Cambodia.It is located on the road to the airport, 6km from the town.
The theme park was constructed in 2001 and opened to the public on 24 September 2003. It covers a total area of 210,000 square meters.CCV presents miniature versions of important historical buildings and structures, together with local customs. There are eleven unique villages, representing the varied culture heritage of nineteen races.
At each village are wood houses, carvings, soft skill in stone, traditional performances in the different style such as: Apsara Dancing, performances of ethnic minorities from Northeast of Cambodia, traditional wedding ceremony, Circus, Popular games, Peacock dancing, Acrobat, elephants shows, boxing, and more...
Cambodian Cultural Village is considered by some as "kitsch", but is popular with Cambodians and other Asian visitors. It includes a wax museum displaying scenes from the culture and history of Cambodia.
A baray is an artificial body of water which is a common element of the architectural style of the Khmer Empire of Southeast Asia. The largest are the East Baray and West Baray in the Angkor area, each rectangular in shape, oriented east-west and measuring roughly five by one and a half miles. Historians are divided on the meaning and functions of barays. Some believe that they were primarily spiritual in purpose, symbolizing the seas surrounding Mount Meru, font of the Hindu cosmos. Others have theorized that they held water for irrigation of fields. It is possible that the function was a combination of these explanations, or others..
The West Baray (Khmer: បារាយណ៍ទឹកថ្លា, Baray Teuk Thla) is a baray, or reservoir, at Angkor, Cambodia, oriented east-west and located just west of the walled city Angkor Thom. Rectangular in shape and measuring approximately 7.8 by 2.1 kilometers, the West Baray is the largest baray at Angkor. Its waters are contained by tall earthen dikes. In the center of the baray is the West Mebon, a Hindu temple built on an artificial island.
Construction of the baray probably began in the 11th Century during the reign of King Suryavarman I and was finished later under King Udayadityavarman II.
The Angkorian engineers who created the West Baray appear to have in places incorporated earlier construction. The east dike, for instance, appears to be largely a section of a dike that enclosed the capital city of King Yasovarman, which had the Phnom Bakheng temple at its center.
In other places, the baray obliterated or submerged earlier human-made sites. The south dike, for instance, partially buried a brick pyramid temple, Ak Yum. And the western floor of the baray appears to have once been inhabited—archeological work has found wall bases, steps, and pottery shards there. An inscription stele discovered in the area, dating from 713 A.D., offers further evidence of earlier settlement, defining rice fields that were offered to a queen Jayadevi.
Early French experts believed the West Baray to have functioned as a vast holding tank for water that fed irrigation canals in dry times, allowing multiple crops of rice each year. Many later studies, however, theorize that the baray had mainly symbolic functions, serving as a vast earthly depiction of the Hindu Sea of Creation, with the West Mebon temple at its center.
In modern times, an irrigation lock was built in the baray's southern dike, raising the water level and allowing provision of water to fields to the south. Today the baray retains water in its western end year-round. In the rainy season, water advances to the eastern dike.
With clear, still waters, the baray today is a popular place for swimming and boat rides by local residents. It has occasionally served as a landing site for seaplanes.
Corner Old Market Area, Siem Reap, Cambodia Hotel Phone number: +855 77 478 633 / Restaurant Phone number: +855 92 209 154
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