Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Angkor Wat Temple Complex

Along the outside of the central temple complex is an 800 m long series of beautiful bas-reliefs. One portion depicts a battle scene from the Hindu Mahabarata epic. Another is of a triumphal battle march of Suryavarman II’s army. Our guide pointed out the mercenary Thai army (who wore headdresses, skirts, and carried tridents), the Khmer troops (with breastplates and spears), and the king riding an elephant, shaded by 15 umbrellas and fanned by scores of servants. Part of the south gallery depicts the punishments of hell and rewards of heaven. Another section shows the famous churning of the Ocean of Milk. Some of the relief figures were quite black and shiny, polished by the many hands rubbing their surface. From the top of the temple, we had a panoramic view of the forested area, the libraries with rather intact roofs, gates, and the many tourists walking up the causeway. Despite its popularity, Angkor Wat definitely was not my favorite.

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