Archive for September 22nd, 2006

Angkor Wat, Cambodia

16 Sep 2006: Part 1 (Angkor Wat)

I couldn’t catch the sunrise but I was there luckily when all the tourist hoard was away.I hired a tuk-tuk for 7 USD (whole day) that would take me to Angkor Wat, Bayon, Baphoun, Prae Khan and Phnom Bakeng (Tourist spot: Sunset view point).

The Tuk-tuk dropped me off at Angkor at 9AM after collecting my three day pass, to visit all the temples of Angkor, for 40USD. The weather was pleasant and would get hotter as the sun goes high. The sight was breath taking. A huge moat surrounds Angkor wat and a bridge connects the gopura at the entrance to the causeway.

Causeway at Angkor Wat

The causeway could be approx. a kilometre. The stones that make the causeway are worn out. Taking millions of tourists now and thousands and monks and visitors in the past the stones show their age by the smoothness on them.  As I walked on it Water reservoirs in front of the structure are filled with lotuses and provides a perfect and a complete reflection of Angkor wat.

Angkor Reflection

Lotus bud like stupas rising high pointing towards the sky. Four stupas surrounding a huge one in the center. Apparently, these were built according to the Hindu cosmology.

Entrance Angkor Wat

Steep stairways (steep as 75deg) providing access to the hallways and to the prayer rooms. A step inside these temples takes your imagination back a couple of thousand years. The archaeologists have dated this structure to belong to the 10 century, 967 A.D but are now reconsidering the date as they suspect that it could be older because the architecture of the 10th century some how doesn’t match with that of Angkor’s. I spotted some monks climbing the steep stairways effortlessly by using their hands, it seemed to me like as if they were rock-climbing minus the gear. I later found that it really reduces the effort if one walks up by using the hands on the next step as support. Really fascinating. The most fascinating of all are the carvings on the walls they are so ornately carved that some are almost three dimensional. So much detail went into it. What still fascinated me was how it stood strong against time, ageing gracefully and exhibiting more beauty as it grew old. How did this structure make it through rain, storm and other calamities that nature brings? I read somewhere that there were no earthquakes registered in Cambodia till date.

I wondered why would someone build something like that? Why were the stairs so steep? Why were they built so high above the ground level, so high that once you climb to any one of the stupas you could almost see the flat landscape for miles and miles. Was it to keep an eye to the approaching enemies? How the hell did they build those high rise structures? How did the stone reach so high? Did they use pulley’s? or was it just manpower? Many questions lingered in my head.

Stone, stone and stone everywhere. Chocolate chip colored. Algae and fungi found their homes on the moist corners of the walls.

The clock was now showing 11:45am. Wow! time just flies by. Apparently the busiest time at Angkor is at sunrise and at 3pm onwards, guess I have missed all the tourist hoards.

I have shot many pictures at Angkor wat but I don’t think any lens could capture the complete beauty of Angkor wat.

Angkor Sunrise

Moat surrounding Angkor Wat

I got back to the tuk-tuk where my friendly driver waited for me to take to the next wonder that Cambodia has to offer the Bayon..