Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Just when you thought you’ve seen enough … you go to the temples of Angkor and get blown away. We took a short (and incredibly early) flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap this morning and went directly to the Angkor complex, home to some of the most amazing works of architecture/art in the world. We began at Angkor Thom, the old capital of the Khmer Empire. Built in 1181, this city was home to 1 million citizens at its peak – more than any European city of the time. The reliefs on the temple walls at Bayon are incredible in their detail and tell stories of Khmer history and devotion to both Hinduism and Buddhism.
From there, we headed to Ta Prohm – something none of us were expecting. The temple to the mother of King Jayavarman VII, this temple has basically been swallowed by the jungle. Walking through the corridors led to one view after another, each one surpassing the prior in wonder. Seriously, we were all in a state of awe. To get an idea of how cool this place is, Think of the temple in Tomb Raider … because it was shot at Ta Prohm.
After a delicious lunch at a restaurant for culinary and restaurant management school students, we went to the largest religious structure in the world – the famous Angkor Wat. We toured the temple for over two hours in the heat of the afternoon, examining bas reliefs of the Ramayana and Mahabharata, marveling at the architecture of the Khmer, and seeing the overall devotion to the gods of the Khmer people.
Picture and video really don’t do the temples justice … but we still collectively took over a thousand shots during our tour. I was personally awestruck by the sheer size of the temples and the Angkor complex, and found myself wanting to learn so much more about the Khmer Empire. I never learned it in school, never taught it in my old world cultures class back in the day, and am looking forward to finding out more about a culture and empire that dwarfed some of the great civilizations of its time.
Posted by Taft - AMERICANHISTORY RULES! at 2:34 AM