Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Temples at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom and Bayon, Cambodia

After landing in Cambodia we entered the bustling town of Siem Reap, which serves as the gateway city to the temples of Angkor Wat.

View from the western gate at sunrise. Angkor Wat (City of Temples) is a Khmer empire monument that was built over a 30 year period in the 12th century.

It is famous for its sheer size and its bas-relief carvings on sandstone, which was quarried from the Kulen Mountains 30 miles away. The sandstone blocks were rafted down man-made canals to the site. The sandstone is part of the Terrane Rouge Formation, a Lower to Middle Jurassic (200 to 150 Ma) lacustrine and fluvial unit.

The many hallways inside the mile-long complex are astounding in their complexity and design.

Buddhist worshipers still use the monument for prayers and festivals.

Detail of a wall carving showing the artistic nature of the site, which began as a Hindu temple but was converted to a Buddhist shrine in the latter part of the 12th century.

Many war scenes are depicted and shown here is a line of soldiers marching into battle.

View of the south wall of Angkor Wat.

We spent three nights in Siem Reap Cambodia and were able to visit many other temple sites within the complex. There are literally hundreds of sites, some still covered with jungle vegetation.

This one is known as Angkor Thom (Great City) and was the capital of the Khmer empire from which all of the great buildings were conceived and executed. It too was built in the 12th century and is located about one mile from Angkor Wat.

It is famous today for the way archaeologists have left large trees that cling to the temple walls, giving an impression of remoteness and mystery to the site.

Trees that damage walls are removed but those that merely cover or drape over the walls are left standing.

Everything is covered in green moss and algae - even the crumbled blocks at the base of the walls.

Weathered sandstone bas-relief panel of goddesses. There is a concern about the salt-weathering that is eating away on some of the sandstone reliefs. This process involves the growth of salt crystals that physically grow and break down the sandstone cement. The salts are derived from the bat guano that is deposited on the walls,

Angkor Thom.
Detail in a sandstone wall.

Fantastic strangler fig roots at Angkor Tom.

They are huge in some cases.

The last site I will show is called Bayon which has 216 images of Buddha on 54 towers.

Here at least five Buddha faces are seen. Can you find them?

Next stop is the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.

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