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Angkor Cambodia

  • Angkor is the most import tourist site in Southeast Asia. Angkor refers to the cluster of ancient Khmer monuments in the region of Siem Reap, Cambodia. Any visit to Angkor needs at least 3 or 4 days there to drive to and inspect up to 45 sites in the immediate region. Siem Reap is the nearest town and airport facility.

Angkor is a World Heritage Site and was listed for the following reasons;
  • ' Criterion i : The Angkor complex represents the entire range of Khmer art from the 9th to the 14th centuries, and includes a number of indisputable artistic masterpieces ( eg Angkor Wat, the Bayon, Banteay Srei ).
  • Criterion ii : The influence of Khmer art, as developed at Angkor. was a profound one over much of south-east Asia and played a fundamental role in its distinctive evolution.
  • Criterion iii : The Khmer Empire of the 9th - 14th centuries encompassed much of south-east Asia and played a formative role in the political and cultural development of the region. All that remains of that civilization is its rich heritage of cult structures in brick and stone.
  •  Criterion iv : Khmer architecture evolved largely from that of the Indian sub-continent, from which it soon became clearly distinct as it developed its own special characteristics, some independently evolved and others acquired from neighboring cultural traditions. The result was a new artistic horizon in oriental art and architecture.
  • The importance of the Khmer religious architecture in the subsequent development of temple-building techniques and styles is great. It is to be seen all over south-east Asia, notably in Thailand and Laos. The Angkor monuments also graphically illustrate the Khmer Empire at the height of its powers. The complex is also of great importance in social and economic terms. The layouts of the successive capitals bear witness to high level of social order within the Khmer Empire, a factor that is reinforced by the evidence of the elaborate irrigation system.' 

Khmer Architecture At Angkor

  • Khmer existence was totally dictated by Hindu beliefs, astrology and subjugation to the Gods and their God Kings. The role of architecture was to demonstrate these beliefs for the believers and enforce by demonstration the system to those subjugated to the system.
  • Architecture was based on a system where boundaries, axes, and other architectural parameters have measurement or size based on their physical extent and internal divisions (that is subdivided parts into logical parts with each measurable against the whole) but where additionally these structures contained calendar and cosmological concepts.
  • The concept of cycles and sub cycles (astronomy) and systems and sub-systems (architecture), the interrelationships between various cycles (astronomy) and various systems (architecture), and the arithmetic calculations that result in time related data ,either time eras, time cycles, or dates, were shared in the methodology and practice of Khmer astronomers and architects.
  • Whilst the positions of the planets and stars can be determined without using trigonometry in Khmer astronomy, it is clear with some Temples that the angles between towers, the moon and sun, and the observation points in the Temples, that these were carefully calculated and that by the 5th and 6th C the Indian astronomy adopted in Cambodia included that knowledge first recorded by the ancient Greeks and Romans.

Khmer Mythology Beliefs, Astrology, Architecture, The Naga & Angkor

  • Just as the Lion and the Constellation Leo signify the Sun and the day, the Naga represents the night, the Luna world. The importance of this is reflected in the Cambodian (Khmer) mythology of their creation and the tradition of Khmer Kings of being praised for unifying the solar and lunar races of kings and of associating a lineage with the sun or moon (which tradition came from India).
  • The Khmer origins myth is inscribed in ancient stones and tells the story how in the 7th C, the legendary hermit Kambu Svayambhuva (an Indian) consorted with Mera, as the gift of Shiva guru of the three worlds, who wanted a perfect creation for his three eyes to glace upon and who thereby endowed with the pre-eminent glory of his lineage, obtained the alliance of the solar and lunar races .

Practical Tips for when you visit Angkor.
  • We comment about the relevant interest of each site in planning any visit as it is easy to miss important sites if you leave the decision making to tour guides. For your assistance we rate the importance of each monument to help you plan your itinerary within your time frame.
  • For photography you should also plan your tour program to fit in with the movement of the sun and light exposure to the four sides of every building and complex. The impact of the sun and its light on these stone buildings and works of art is significant. In fact the ancient Khmer people designed many architectural features and works of art to be seen at different times depending on the angle and exposure of rays of light from the Sun.
  • A visit to Angkor needs to be researched and planned for. Travel tours only show you what they want within your limited time there, and not necessarily what is really important and often leave out important items of interest. Your itinerary can be divided into, (1) The walled city of Angkor Thom  and monuments within it, (2) important monuments to the east of Angkor Thom, (3) the ruins of Banteay Srei and to the north of Angkor Thom, (4) most importantly Angkor Wat to the South of Angkor Thom, (5) The other important monuments South of Angkor Thom and for those with extra time, (6) the monuments at Roulos southeast of Siem Reap.