January 27, 2010
If mythology and architecture fascinates you, make a trip to the Angkor region inCambodia. Angkor served as a seat of the Khmer empire from the 9th to the 13thcentury and is replete with ruins scattered among forests and farmland. Steeped in Hindu mythology and exuding classic architectural brilliance, Angkor has become a renowned tourist destination. Many of its temples have been restored and together form one of the most important sites of Khmer architecture. The resplendent temple of Angkor Wat is recognized as one of the largest religious monuments in the world. Besides Angkor Wat there are hundreds of temples and ruins that temple buffs would want to visit.
No traveler worth his salt should leave Cambodia without swinging by the Angkor Wat temple. It is one of the world’s most outstanding and engaging architectural wonders. This region in Cambodiawas originally built in the 12th century for King Suryavarman II to honor the Hindu God Vishnu. It has become a world famous tourist attraction on account of its mythical and cinematic appeal. Built to represent the Hindu Cosmology, its size alone defies the imagination. Its outer walls stretch to over a kilometer in each direction and are surrounded by a splendid moat. The temple itself is a sight for sore eyes with intricate bas relief sculptures and numerous vantage points that offer spellbinding views. Angkor Wat is undoubtedly the shining star of Cambodia and is even featured on its flag. Pay a visit to this ancient temple and experience the curious sensation of crossing over from the mortal world to the abode of the Gods.
Angkor Thom is another area worth visiting while in Angkor. This 12th century Buddhist city was founded by King Jayavarman VII and now comprises a mile long region speckled with gates, statues, stone temples and ruins. Some noteworthy landmarks include the Terrace of the Elephants, Terrace of the Leper King, the Phimeanakas Temple and the Bayon Temple. Drop by the Bayon Temple which is in the very heart of Angkor Thom and feast your eyes on its elaborate bas-reliefs. The Bayon was designed to represent the intersection of heaven and earth and is especially famous for the sphinx-like smiling faces of Avalokiteshvara.
If Tomb Raider captured your imagination, then you must drop by Ta Phrom. This place is one of the most atmospheric sites in Angkor and is intermeshed with trees and vines that are on their way to destroying this 12th century Buddhist temple. What’s most unusual is that the same roots tend to uphold other relics in Ta Phrom. Any time is a good time to visit and there’s plenty to explore. Ta Phrom is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Angkor apart from Angkor Wat and the Bayon Temple. Amble along its many alleys or find your own corner to soak in the ambience around you.
Hungry for some spectacular sunset views? Climb to the Bakheng Temple which is the highest point in the area between Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom. It is a 60 meter high summit offering incredible views of the setting sun. Tourists glut Bakheng mainly on account of its fantastic sunset views. The path to the summit is long and serpentine but well worth the effort.
There are several other places of interests in Angkor that are worth seeing. Angkor is an avid sightseer’s dream come true. There’s no other place in the world that offers such a potent mixture of myth, religion, architecture and ancient ruins. So plan a sightseeing vacation to Angkor and get taken back in time to a world where Kings and their many Gods symbolically dwelled under one roof.