The Temples of Angkor – Day 1

15 Jul

I was introduced to Cambodia quite by chance. A couple of months ago I saw a friend’s pictures of the Bayon and Angkor Wat; and was immediately smitten. Somehow as Paulo Coelho would say, the universe conspired with my wish and it was granted 🙂 I got to visit Cambodia 🙂

We spent 6 days here (less for such a beautiful place) with 3 days in Siem Reap and 3 days in Phnom Penh. In Siem Reap we decided to tak 2 full days and explore quite a few of the temples that it is so famous for. We didn’t want to make it a hurried trip and cramp everything in one day, nor did we want to just sit and see all the temples at a leisure. Hence 2 days worked best for us.

All the temples in this place are a mix of Hindu and Buddhist mythology. Since the Kings here kept converting between these 2 religions, all the temples carry quite a bit of Hindu mythology (very similar to that in India) and you see the stories from Shiva, Ramayana, Mahabharata etc depicted all over these temples. However the most common is the 4 faces of the Buddha (always resembling their King then) and the sagar manthan / ocean churning between the devas and the asuras.

For our day 1 of the temple visit, we started with the South Gate. There are quite a few gates all over the city and some are victory gates and some are defeat gates. This was for announcing to the town the outcome of a battle, depending on which gate the army came back from. This gate below depicts the sagar manthan done by the devas and the asuras and the 4 faces of the Buddha.

The South Gate

4 faces of Buddha

Interestingly, all these stones are not glued together but just placed over one another and locked somehow. It’s amazing to see how it has withstood centuries with such simple construction mechanism.

We then went to see one of my favourite temples, the Angkor Thom or the Bayon. This used to be a city built by the most famous king, Jayavaraman VII and is known for the 54 towers with 216 faces of the Buddha all over. It also has walls with some beautiful carvings depicting a civil war fought and the celebrations thereafter. The carvings are so amazing that you can even decipher the different nationalities of the people who fought in this war.

Angkor Thom

4 faces of Buddha on each pillar

Buddhas all around

Carvings on the wall – Celebrations post a war

We then walked to the nearby Royal Enclosure and the Phimeanakas. Though there is nothing much left of the actual temple but it’s being restored and has some beautiful carvings and a representation of the Mt. Meru. There are also quite a few stairs here to climb, but the view from the top is so worth it.

The Temple

Views from Level 1

Views from Level 3

We then saw the Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants.

Terrace of the Leper King

Terrace of the Elephants

We then went to the highlight of our visit – the Angkor Wat. This is undoubtedly the most beautiful and the most amazing of all the temples in Siem Reap. And the first look is something that will stay with you forever.

This is believed to be the largest religious structure in the world but more than the size what really strikes you is the symmetry in the design of the place. It also defies quite a major logic –  it faces the west (side of death) instead of the east (side of praying). While we loved exploring this whole temple complex, what really amazed us was the intricate carving of the apsaras (no 2 are alike), the missing buddha statues from the murals (they were removed when the King converted to Hinduism), missing Buddha heads from various statues (stolen and sold as antiques) and the various carvings from the Mahabharata, Heaven & Hell, Vishnu, etc.

The Stunning Angkor Wat

Inside the Gate

Earlier Vishnu now Buddha

The beautiful Apsaras

More Apasaras

More Apsaras

View of the Temple in the Moat

Scene from Mahabharata – Bhisma on the bed of arrows

The amazing detailing – the beautiful owls in the trees

The temple at the top in Angkor Wat

After a long day in these temples, we decided to call it a day and spent the rest of the evening in the Pub Street, shopping at the various quaint NGO stores and the getting relaxing massages…

Tips for the Trip –

  • Cambodia accepts dollars so carry currency accordingly.
  • Passes are available for visiting temples for 1 day, 3 day and 7 days. Decide on what you want to see and buy a ticket accordingly.
  • A lot of stories here are from the Hindu mythology. So please brush up on the same before you go there as these people really like to discuss them and ask what we believe in. It also helps to appreciate the place better.
  • There is a lot of walking around to see these places, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • The temples are pretty particular about the dress code, so please cover the shoulders and the knees.
  •  Always take a guide as you really get to know the stories and the history of the place. It’s not so much to see in these temples especially the main ones without a guide.

44 Responses to “The Temples of Angkor – Day 1”

  1. Peggy A Thompson July 15, 2012 at 01:35 #

    What a marvelous place this must be! Thanks for the great photos!


    • getsetandgo July 16, 2012 at 16:11 #

      Thanks Peggy.. It is a beautiful place and extremely recomended for a visit….


  2. pommepal July 15, 2012 at 02:59 #

    The photos make me want to go there


    • getsetandgo July 16, 2012 at 16:12 #

      Hi Pommepal… You should seriously visit this place…. Its really beautiful and you go mad with your camera… I have take about 800 pictures in 6 days… 🙂


      • pommepal July 17, 2012 at 06:10 #

        It is on my bucket list but at 70 years old there is so much still left on that list, but Cambodia is near the top. Health permitting…


      • getsetandgo July 17, 2012 at 10:32 #

        Pommepal, you are an inspiration…. I so hope that I can be as active and visit places when I am 70… Touch wood and have a great time traveling…. 🙂


      • pommepal July 17, 2012 at 15:42 #



  3. Color Odyssey July 16, 2012 at 14:40 #

    Hi Snigdha, Your post just reminded me of the wonderful time I had in Siem Reap! 🙂


    • getsetandgo July 16, 2012 at 16:19 #

      Hi Ritu… I loved the place too… But due to the weather missed the sun rise views of Angkor Wat and the sunset view on top of the hil.. :(… Love your take on this place….


  4. friendlytm July 16, 2012 at 16:19 #

    I had visited Angor Wat, which was very interesting. You did a great job in posting the pix.


  5. Debra Kolkka July 16, 2012 at 18:28 #

    Beautiful photos! I really want to visit Angkor.


    • getsetandgo July 17, 2012 at 10:14 #

      Thanks. It is a gorgeous place and even apart from the temples there are just so many other beautiful aspects about the culture and the people that this place is one of my top 10 recomended places for a visit.


  6. brigadatanabambi July 16, 2012 at 19:16 #

    Wow….this post makes me wish i could just teleport myself there….


  7. claudiagiulia July 19, 2012 at 08:51 #

    I have been wanting to go for such a long time. Thank you for “taking” me there


    • getsetandgo July 19, 2012 at 10:44 #

      Hey, thanks for visiting my blog and happy to arrange such “trips” anytime .. 🙂


  8. Sumithra Sriram July 19, 2012 at 21:37 #

    I have always wanted to visit this place… And this post has just made my resolve stronger… Thank you for this amazing post!! 🙂


    • getsetandgo July 23, 2012 at 11:06 #

      Thanks Sumithra… It is a must visit place and we loved every minute of our stay here…


  9. Shalu Sharma July 21, 2012 at 12:08 #

    Amazing photos. They are stunning.


  10. eclegein July 22, 2012 at 20:39 #

    Nice write-up with good pictures.


  11. Ranita Sinha July 23, 2012 at 13:24 #

    beautiful photographs!!!!


  12. PN Subramanian July 23, 2012 at 14:31 #

    Excellent account. Pictures are superb. It was interesting to learn about “defeat gate”. No wonder Vishnu became Buddha. Anyway it is interchangeable because we have accorded Buddhas the status of an Avtar (incarnation) of Vishnu.


    • getsetandgo July 26, 2012 at 22:47 #

      Thanks.. I had not known that… will surely brush up my knowledge on Hindu mythology to understand this better..


  13. jeseris July 24, 2012 at 13:44 #

    Ah, Cambodia! I loved this country and I was amazed by the temples of Ankor – beautiful photography! 🙂


    • getsetandgo July 26, 2012 at 22:53 #

      Thanks Jeseris… I felt it is one beautiful country and loads to capture 🙂


  14. Sammy Laky July 24, 2012 at 14:13 #

    Religion is of course very important becuase it also helps us to be a good person for others. it doesnt matter what kind of religion you have, as long as it promotes goodness. `*:*;

    Many thanks“>


  15. irisofthewayfarer August 4, 2012 at 04:46 #

    Wow, what a gorgeous place. Almost overwhelming, I would think. Love your photos


  16. GalonTrip August 5, 2012 at 23:56 #

    splendid! do you mean spending just 1 day to visit this temple is not enough?


    • getsetandgo August 6, 2012 at 12:17 #

      No. You need at least 2 days for the main temples.


  17. fibrate August 7, 2012 at 09:38 #

    Amazing place 🙂 Was there about 5 years ago, my first trip with my brand new DSLR. I have to return for BETTER photos. And I just love the vibe of Pub Street!


    • getsetandgo August 7, 2012 at 18:50 #

      I loved photographing here and have clicked nearly 1000 pics in 6 days… 🙂 There were just too many amazing things to capture…


  18. aquacompass7 August 8, 2012 at 16:11 #

    From Japan. Thank you for visiting my blog. You took the good photograph of Angkor Wat. I want also to go there some time.


    • getsetandgo August 9, 2012 at 10:46 #

      Thanks aquacompass7. This place is definitely worth a visit.


  19. fgassette August 13, 2012 at 22:48 #

    What a wonderful and beautiful place. Thank you for taking us on this visual tour.



  20. Amy Fareena Wee August 14, 2012 at 13:39 #

    awesome photos!! would love to visit there one day


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