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The city of Angkor
country : Cambodia
place : Siem Reap, north of the Tonle Sap lake

One of the most popular tourist attractions in Cambodia is the ancient city of Angkor. The historic site is located approximately 200 miles north-west of the current capital city of Phnom Penh and is surrounded by jungle. The nearby town of Siem Riep has become a tourist destination on account of Angkor. The city of Angkor is filled with more than a thousand temples and other architectural accomplishments but the greatest sight is the temple of Angkor Wat.

Temples of Angkor Wat

Many of the temples of the area are Buddhist, but Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple dedicated to the God Vishnu. The temple is surrounded by a moat and encompasses an area of 1,500m by 1,300m (approximately 1 square mile). There are numerous smaller buildings that make up the Angkor Wat compound, and there is elaborate sculpture and carving on every surface. The bas-relief carvings show scenes from mythology, ancient battles, and other aspects of Khmer life. The 5 rounded towers give the temple a distinctive profile. Angkor Wat took 37 years to complete with a work force of more than 50,000 men. During the rule of the Khmer Rouge, most of the monks who lived in the temples were killed but the buildings themselves have remained for the most part, untouched.

Origins of Angkor Wat

The history of the region begins with the Funan civilization that arose in the first century A.D. The Angkor period began in 802 A.D when King Jayavarman II returned from exile in Java to reclaim his throne. He founded his capital as the city of Angkor. The city flourished and grew, but the temple of Angkor Wat was not built for another 200 years. It was Suryavarman II who had the Hindu temple constructed as his own burial shrine. Later ruler, Jayavarman VII continued building at Angkor and created countless monuments, shrines and temples within the city. So many years of construction has created a vast complex of sandstone buildings, often compared to the massive construction projects seen in ancient Egypt.

Abandoned, then Rediscovered

Angkor was abandoned in the mid 1400s when the Thai armies invaded. With few records surviving from that time, there are no solid facts as to the historical events that took place. It's believed that the capital was moved to Phnom Penh around 1434.
The ruins of Angkor Wat were rediscovered in 1860 by a French botanist, Henri Mouhot, who was exploring the Cambodian jungles. This lost civilization was of great interest to Western archaeologists and historians who flocked to the site to learn more about the Khmer. Before the ruins were found, even the locals thought the existence of the temple city was likely a myth. Some who had seen the city said that it had been built by the Gods themselves.

Today, Angkor Wat temple is considered the largest religious structure in the world, and has been named a world heritage site. Restoration is ongoing, though unexploded land mines left over from the civil war are hindering efforts.

source :http://www.suite101.com


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