Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat “Temple City” is the famous 7th Wonders of the World, designated by UNESCO as a world heritage site in 1992. Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. Stretching over some 400 km2, including forested area, Angkor Archaeological Park contains the magnificent remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, and is the largest religious monument in the world as well as the soul of Cambodia. The temple was built in the early 12th century under the reign of King Suryavarman II, was originally constructed as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple toward the end of the 12th century. Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the Devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometers long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the center of the temple stands a quincunx of towers with 65m high.
Angkor Thom “Great City” was the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire, established in the late 20th century by King Jayavarman VII. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several monuments from earlier eras including Baphuon and Phimeanakas as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the center of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north. There are five entrances (gates) to the city, one for each cardinal point, and the victory gate leading to the Royal Palace area. Each gate is crowned with 4 giant faces. The South Gate is often the first stop on a tour.
One of the main Angkor temples, was built in late 12th century under the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The giant stone of smiling faces of Bayon has become one of the most recognizable images connected to classic Khmer art and architecture with 37 standing towers. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. Bayon temple is a must to visit when travel to Cambodia otherwise you would feel that you didn’t experience Cambodia enough in meaningful.
Ta Prohm Temple
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of stunning trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors and it was where Lara Croft – Thomb Raider was filmed. Ta Prohm temple was built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries under the reign of Jayavarman VII, located 1km east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray.
Banteay Srei Temple
Bateay Srei “The citadel of woman” is situated northeast of Angkor, 40km away from Siem Reap and takes around 1 hour drive. The intricately carved, pink sandstone temple was built in 10th century, dedicated to Hindu and god Shiva, considered to be a Jewel of Khmer art which features elaborate decorations and fine detail. It has become one of the favorite temples for tourist after the main temples of Angkor. There are a few attractions which tourist can visit on the same day if they plan their trip to Banteay Srei. Those attractive places are including butterfly garden, landmine museum and local handicraft souvenirs, and palm sugar making and packing.
Kbal Spean, The river bed of 1000 lingas
Kbal Spean “Bridge Head” is located southwest slops of Phnom Kulen waterfall, which takes approximately more than 1 hour drive from Siem Reap town. The Kbal Spean River is commonly known as the “Valley of a 1000 lingas” or “The River of a Thousand Lingas”, it’s where the ancient Khmer religiously believed that the water that flowed passing by, those who got bathing under the falls, would be more powerful and they still believed the holy water could get rid out of any diseases, cynical evils and so on. The Kbal Spean also provides a nice short hiking from the foothill to the river bed, which is around 40 minute hike each direction. Strong footwear, insect repellent, hat and long sleeves are recommended to bring along to the site.
A small religious Hindu temple, was built in mid of 11th century, located in Angkor Thom, northwest of Bayon. It is a three-tiered sandstone temple mountain, dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style.
Phimeanakas is a Hindu temple in the Khleang style, built at the end of the 10th century, during the reign of Rajendravarman, then completed by Suryavarman in the shape of a three tier impressive laterite and sandstone pyramid. On top of the pyramid there was a tower, while on the edge of top platform there are galleries. Phimeanakas is located inside the walled enclosure of the Royal Palace of Angkor Thom north of Baphuon.
Terrace of Elephant
Terrace of elephant was built in late 12th century and was used by Angkor’s king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.
Terrace of Leper King
The Terrace of the Leper King (or Leper King Terrace) is located in the northwest corner of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom, was built in the Bayon style in late 12th century under Jayavarman VII, though its modern name derives from a 15th-century sculpture discovered at the site. The statue depicts the Hindu god Yama, the god of death.
“A Citadel of Chambers” is opposite Srah Srang reservoir. This Buddhist temple was built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries AD in Bayon style during the reign of Jayavarman VII. The name Banteay Kdei originates from an earlier name, Kuti, which is mentioned in the Sdok Kak Thom. This stele describes the arrival of Jayavarman II to the area, “When they arrived at the eastern district, the king bestowed an estate and a village called Kuti upon the family of the royal chaplain.” This royal chaplain was the Brahman scholar Sivakaivalya, his chief priest for the Devaraja cult.
Fairly large, one tier platform with laterite and sandstone in architecture & artistry of Angkor Wat style, still provides well-preserved carvings in good condition. This Hindu temple was constructed in mid-12th century C.E. under the reign of Suryavarman II. This temple is suitable tourist to combine it with Banteay Srei on the same day.
Pre Rup Temple
Pre Rup is artistically superior temple mountain, built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman in late 10th century. Pre Rup means “Turn the body” when funerals were religiously conducted at the temple, with the ashes of the body being ritually rotated in different directions as the service progressed. Pre Rup is still in detail of well-preserved carvings, particularly on the lintels and it provides excellent surroundings as well as nice sunset alternative to Phnom Bakheng.
The Monuments of Rolous Group
Roluos Group of temples are some of the earliest permanent structures built by Khmer’s ancestors during the power of Khmer Empire dating from the late 9th century. These three major temples: Bakong, Lolei, and Preah Ko, along with tiny Prasat Prei Monti. At both Bakong and Lolei there are contemporary Theravada Buddhist monasteries. Around the area of Bakong temple, there was a tragic history which processed hundreds of local lives during The Khmer Rouge seized the power from 1975-1979. It used to be the area where the death bodies were buried but now it has become a great home for inhabitation for the locals. It takes around 30 minutes to reach the Rolous Group from Siem Reap town (15km).
How do you plan your days for Angkor Wat & Other Angkor Temples?
A lot of travelers generally spend 1 full day to discover the small circuit including South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Terrace of Leper King, Terrace of Elephant, Ta Prohm jungle temple and lastly visit Angkor Wat temple. Travelers can also add sunrise or sunset on the same day but your worth tour guide can provide advice where to grab the best view and avoiding the massive crowds. If you are really fond of the temples, you can plan your second day with Banteay Srei, the intricately carved temple and the only one that has deep carvings in detail.
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