Amore e pianto, vivono accanto

Temples of the Angkor Complex in Cambodia

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Built from 802 to 1220 AD by the Khmer civilization, the temples at Angkor represent one of the most enduring and astonishing architectural achievements of humankind. The more than 100 stone structures that we see today are the surviving remnants of a grand administrative, religious, and social metropolis. The other buildings (public buildings, palaces, homes, etc.) were actually built from wood and do not exist anymore.

Conventional theories assume that the land where Angkor is located was chosen as the settlement spot due to its strategic position for military purposes, as well as its agricultural potential. However, other scholars think that the location and the arrangement of Angkor was based on planet-spanning sacred land from archaic periods.

Angkor Wat was built early in 1100s by Suryavarman over an estimated 30 years and honors Vishnu, the Hindu god. The ruins are a symbolic structure of Hindu cosmology. This is actually the biggest monument in the group, as well as the best preserved. The wonder is located about 4 miles to the north of Siem Reap and south of Angkor Thom, and Angkor Wat is only accessible from its gate to the west.

Angkor Wat consists of a huge temple that symbolizes Mt. Meru, a mythic mountain, and its 5 walls and moats are a representation of mountainous chains, as well as the cosmic ocean. This temple was a funerary temple built for King Suryavarman II. The vast compound’s short dimensions are aligned precisely along the north-south axis, and the east to west axis was diverted deliberately 0.75° to give its observers an anticipation of the equinox in spring for 3 days.

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Photographer: Sue Strickland
Summary Author: Sue Strickland

The temples of the Angkor complex, near the Cambodian city of Siem Reap, were abandoned and left to decay for nearly 500 years after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century. The indigenous jungle plants of Cambodia quickly began to invade and destroy the structures. When efforts to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 20th century, archeologists decided to leave one temple, Ta Prohm, largely as it had been found except for clearing a path for visitors and strengthening the buildings to prevent further deterioration. The spung trees (Tetrameles nudiflora) growing out of the ruins and the dense jungle surroundings make it possible for visitors today to experience Ta Prohm very much as the early explorers did when they first came upon the temples of Angkor, in the middle of the 19th century.

Ta Prohm is one of the largest and most picturesque temples in the Angkor complex. Constructed as a Buddhist monastery, from the mid-12th to early 13th century, the temple was home to more than 12,500 people (including high priests, officials, assistants and dancers), all of whom were supported by a population of nearly 80,000 people who worked in nearby villages to provide food and supplies. Ta Prohm was also the headquarters of a vast hospital network, providing supplies for over 100 hospitals located throughout the Khmer empire.

Photo details: Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon EOS DIGITAL REBEL XTi; Focal Length: 17.0mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.020 s (1/50); ISO equiv: 400; Exposure Bias: -0.33 EV; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: aperture priority (semi-auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: Adobe RGB (1998); Software: Adobe Photoshop Elements 8.0 Windows.

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3 responses

  1. full of mystery!

    June 3, 2012 at 3:12 am

  2. Pingback: Tonle Sap Lake ~ Cambodia | L'amore e forte come la morte

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