Archive for the ‘Khmer’ Category

Angkor Wat

No matter how many times I see this it doesn’t cease to mesmerize me..Angkor Wat

Image Copyright © Praveen Chamarthi

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Bantaey Srei, Bantaey Samre, Sra Srang, Bantaey Kdei and Ta Prohm

17th Sep 2006

I woke up at 5am this morning to catch the sunrise once again at Angkor Wat. Saphol (my tuk-tuk driver was already waiting there) since today will be a different route altogether he asked a new price. I bargained finally for 15USD for the whole day.

After a long, peaceful and quite drive passing through the lush green, unexplored landscape we reached Bantaey SreiThe Citadel of Women“. The temple is considered to be the pinnacle of Khmer art. Otherwise referred as “The jewel of Khmer art“.

This monument is dedicated to the God ‘Tribhuvanamaheshvara‘. These walls exhibit themes of Shiva (Ravana trying to disrupt the meditation of Shiva enthroned on Mount Kailash, by shaking the mountain; Kama attempting to disturpt his medidation by means of seduction). Other themes of Vishnu such as ‘The Rain of Indra‘ and ‘The Killing of Kamsa‘ are a few themes that can be viewed on these walls .

Bantaey Srei

It is said that the art on this temples walls must have been carved by some skillfull women as the intricate carvings and the 3 dimensional art wouldn’t have been possible by the hands of a man. Bantaey Srei though very small in size is considered the most beautiful of all. The ornatley carved stones on the pink hue stone is a wonder to watch.

Carvings, Bantaey Srei

Carvings, Bantaey Srei

Our next stop was Bantaey Samre
built by Suryavarman II in the middle of the 12th century has bas-reliefs depeciting the legends of Vishnu

Bantaey Samre

and then to the famous Sra Srang (the wide pleasure pool) used for ceremonies and royal bathing, faces Bantaey Kdei .It is said that “Elephant bathing was not allowed” was inscribed on the walls of this pool.

Sra Srang

As I was walking up to the view point I was swarmed by kids trying to sell me bracelets and metal buddhas I looked around to find that there were more stalls trying to sell clothes, linen, T-Shirts, Cool drinks, Coconut water, beer. I heard screaming voices “Sir..do you want something cold to drink..you look tiiered”. “Sir would you like to buy a T-shirt..very cheap 1 for 3 dollar..I give you best price sir” having experienced all these in the last two days…I ignored those calls..noticing that the girls started again “Sir..I remember you..you remember me OK? When you come back you buy from me OK..otherwise you make me cry”

I burst into laughter and so did all the tourists around who are being subjected to this. Honestly, it could be annoying for most tourists if they are not used to this selling, tailing you back until you buy..but for me it was a very pleseant experience as I had humour filled in me all the time..in fact I think it is the golden rule if you wish to make your travel memorable. Be ready to get conned, ripped off, buying fake stuff etc c’mon this happens to innocent tourists in your home country too..be careful but don’t snap back at them or get angry..ignore if it annoys you..but if you have to confront be polite..say “No, thank you” and add a smile if you can.

The Sra Srang lakes faces opposite Bantaey Kdei The Citadel of Cells“. Banteay Kdei was built as a Buddhist complex by Jayavarman II. It is said that the existing condition of this monument is due to hasty construction which was carried out during that period.

Bantaey Kdei

Ta Prohm is stones throw away from Bantaey Kdei .

Ta Prohm means “Great City“. It is said that Jayavarman VII, has dedicated this temple to his mother. A classic example of nature against man. One witnesses here the conflict between nature and stone: The stone trying to withstand and the vegetation growing tall over the monuments

see for yourself.

Ta Phrom

massive roots embracing the walls..these trees must’ve been growing on the top of these temples for atleast 200 to 300 years may be older.

Ta Phrom, Entrance

unfortunately a few years ago, part of a gallery inside this monument was damaged due to lighting which brought a massive tree down.

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..