Aaaangkor Wat!!! And yes, I was left gasping for air in amazement!
Following such an inspiring trip around the Angkor Wat Temple Complex the previous day, it was impossible to resist waking up to another day and marvel on the beauty of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom.
Words defined in any superlative would not ever suffice and ever do justice in describing how overwhelming and awe-inspiring Angkor Wat is! It was a very humbling experience to finally see it in person and I cannot help myself but thank God for such a beautiful blessing. Truly, waking up at 4:00 in the morning was very much worth it because we were able to witness the momentous sunrise in Angkor Wat!
Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument. It represents a complete microcosm of the Hindu universe, as seen through its moats, enclosures, towers and five peaks of Mount Meru. It may be said that it is an architectural masterpiece in its own right as seen through its fine proportions and rich details, and indeed the highest point of classical Khmer construction. It contains around 600 meters of narrative bas-relief and nearly 2000 apsaras, the celestial dancing maidens!
Angkor Wat, the “city [which became a] pagoda” was not only the grandest and most sublime of all the Khmer temples, but also a city in its own right. It was built both as the state capital and the State Temple dedicated to Vishnu.
The bas-reliefs, considered as one of the most famous creations in Khmer art, cover a great area of the exterior walls of the Angkor Wat. The subject matter of the bas-reliefs mainly show about the conclusion of the Hindu epic, Ramayana and Mahabharata.
After exhausting every corner of Angkor Wat, we had to bid goodbye to the elusive temple and be grateful for such a humbling experience.
Inside the Fortifications of Angkor Thom
Although we visited Angkor Thom the previous day, we were not able to set foot on most of the temples inside it. Angkor Thom is one of the largest of all Khmer cities. Living up to its name which means the “Great City”, the temples within Angkor Thom indeed show that they belong in the city of greatness.
The Bayon is located inside Angkor Thom. It was one of the most fun temples we explored because of its maze-like quality! It was equally majestic and featured a complex of face towers and narrative bas-reliefs of Khmer history and daily life. The Bayon is said to be one of the most enigmatic and powerful constructions in the world as it shows different religious phases of Hindu worship and Buddhism.
Today, there are 37 towers standing (from the original 49) and most towers are carved with four faces on each cardinal point. The individual heights of the towers along with the different levels of the temple create an impression of a forest of towers rising towards the center.
After visiting the Bayon, we headed central part of the Angkor Thom– the Giant Buddha, the Bapuon, the Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, and West Mebon.
The Bapuon is an enormous temple mountain and is essentially a massive five-tiered pyramid set within a long enclosure. required proper dress code to be allowed entry into the temple. Ladies need to covered up properly, sleeveless tops and shorts and mini-skirts are not allowed inside.
The Elephant Terrace, located at the heart of Angkor Thom was the foundation for royal reception pavilions. The carvings on the walls showcase different elephants, hence its name.
Leper King Terrace
The massive terrace was named after a sculpture which was discovered in the site. The statue depicts the Hindu god Yama, the god of Death. “He was called the Leper King because of the discoloration and moss growing on the original statue was reminiscent of a person with leprosy, and also because it fit in with a Cambodian legend of an Angkorian king who had leprosy.”
Truly, Angkor Wat was a fulfilled childhood dream successfully slashed off from my bucket list. Thinking about how happy I was while I was exploring the different Temples of Angkor truly makes me smile as I now reminisce about it while writing this blog post. The experience is truly something that I will remember for the rest of my existence
After a long and hard day of walking, we rewarded ourselves with another round of our favourite fresh coconut water (Buko Juice) to prevent ourselves from getting heat stroke under the 37-38 degree heat of Siem Reap! But nevertheless, all the heat was very much worth it, because it cannot be compared to the new insights and new experiences that I have gained.
After half a day of walking around, we had to call it a day because we had to cross the border once again to go back to Thailand!