Cambodia

  Angkor


Introduction
In the dense jungle of Cambodia, 200 miles north of the capital city Phnom Penh, and about four miles from the town of Siem Reap, lies the historic city of Angkor. It is a huge complex of more than 100 temples dating back to the 9th century AD, which served as the capital of the great Khmer Empire. Today it is hidden beneath a huge rainforest canopy, and the glorious temples of yesteryears that have been ravaged by wars, weather and looters.


What to do

Angkor is one of the greatest archaeological and architectural wonders of the world. Once here, you can visit the 'temple mountain' monuments of Angkor which will take you to a different realm altogether. The complex spreads around an area of more than 400 sq km. One has to see to believe the mystery and beauty of the temples. The most famous is the huge and magnificent temple of Angkor Wat. Angkor is currently under the jurisdiction of the UNESCO, but these magnificent monuments are open for tourists to visit.


City at a Glance
Latitude 13?43' N
Longitude 103?9' E
Area 400 sq km
Language Khmer, French and English
Religion Buddhism
Telephone Code 016 (Seam Reap)

The locals speak Khmer, French and English and the religion they follow is Buddhism. One has to stay in nearby town of Siem Reap to visit the Angkor Mountain.


History


The ruined city of Angkor was the ancient capital of the Great Khmer Empire, which flourished from the ninth to fifteenth centuries AD. The Khmer kingdom at Angkor was architecturally the most brilliant in the whole of Southeast Asia. They had lived in the region for centuries and were dominated by regional superpowers like the Javanese and Chinese. In 802 AD a young Khmer Prince, Jayavarman II, declared his independence from Java and declared himself as the new King. He unified the Khmer lands and established a belief that Khmers were the Gods incarnate and identified himself with Hindu God Siva. Jayavarman and his successors started the building of stone temples and expanding their territory. In 1177 AD, the Khmer capital was devastated by an attack by the Chams, however the kingdom was restored subsequently. The Thais, who sacked Angkor in 1353 AD, frequently attacked the Khmer kingdom. Continuous warfare between the Khmers and the Thais forced the Khmers to leave Angkor and move the capital to Phnom Penh. The glory of Angkor was over by the end of the fifteenth century AD. After Angkor's desertion, the jungle took over and in 1860 a French naturalist Henri Mouhot, 'discovered' the place again and made it famous. Till the 1960s it was a popular spot for European Asians. The Civil war in 1970 and the takeover by Khmer Rouge in 1975 made Angkor and surrounding Siem Reap a rebel hotspot. Today the monuments are once again open to tourists.


Weather and Best Season to Visit
Cambodia has uniform climatic conditions throughout its territories. The dry season is from October to April, it rains from May to September. The best season to visit this place is from December to January.


Attractions


The Angkor Wat
The magnificent Angkor Wat is the Khmer's most significant architectural achievement. The temple complex, which took thirty years to complete, covers 500 acres, is a gigantic representation of Mount Meru. It also represents Hindu Cosmology. Five towers made of stylised lotuses rise from the center, with the innermost tower rising to a height of 699 feet. The five central towers are enclosed by still more towers, courtyards, and galleries. Angkor Wat is surrounded by a moat representing the ocean surrounding the world.

In the outer galleries of the Wat, is the largest bas-relief sculpture in the world. This sculpture depicts scenes from Hindu legends - the Ramayana and Mahabharata, as well as depictions of heaven and hell.



The Angkor Thom


Jayavarman VII built this city called Angkor Thom with a 100 metre wide moat extending 12 km. Within this one can admire the Bayon Temple, which emerges form the jungle as a forest of heads. He also built a large number of temples inside the city including Banteay Srei, Srah Srang, Prah Khan, and Ta Phrom. Thse temples suddenly seem to appear from the jungle giving them an eerie and a romantic quality. Unlike the others these temples were not Hindu but Buddhist. The temple of Phimeanakas was later enclosed within the Palace of Angkor Thom.

Leading to the entrance gateways of Angkor Thom are further sculptural representations of the Churning Of The Sea of Milk. A line of fifty- four carved gods along one side and the same numbers of demons stand on the other side of the walk.



Temple at Phnom Bakheng

The Phnom Bakheng Hill, only a short distance from Angkor Wat, was the first 'temple mountain' at Angkor. According to Hindu mythology, the temple mountain represents Mount Meru, the cosmic mountain and axis of the universe. The temple originally had 109 towers but many of them are missing now. The total number of levels in the structure totalled seven representing the seven heavens of Hinduism.



Ta Keo
This temple was the first to have been built with sandstone, surrounded by a moat, the pyramid like structure rises to an impressive 200 feet. This temple is an important milestone in Khmer history.


 

Shopping
There are no glitzy shopping malls to speak of, except a few sprinkling of souvenir shops in the Old Market, Siem Reap's main shopping centre. Those interested can pick up high quality handicraft sandstone replicas of the Angkor Wat Temples.


Where to Stay
The visitor has to stay in the nearby town of Siem Reap to access the Angkor monuments. There are quite a few hotels located at the edge of Siem Reap town like the Grand Hotel D' Angkor and some near the airport like Angkor Hotel and City Angkor Hotel, which provide excellent five star facilities. Ta Phrom Hotel, Angkor Village Hotel and Salina Hotel are in the downtown area, which suit the average budget travellers.

 


Where to Eat

Eating options being less, one can try out the noodle stalls and sandwich carts in the Old Market of Siem Reap that offer local delicacies like steaming Cambodian noodles and pate-filled French baguettes.


Travel Information


The visitor has to use the town of Siem Reap, the small town alongside the still waters of the Siem Reap River, as a stopover to visit the monuments of Angkor. The town comes alive with the flurry of activity when tourists leave for the temples of Angkor or arrive from them in the early mornings or evenings.


Air Travel Resources

Siam Reap is the nearest airport for Angkor and is well connected to Phnom Penh and other nearby destinations. However Phnom Penh, being the national capital has a better network of flights linking it with some of the major cities around the world. Royal Air Cambodge, President Airlines and Phnom Penh Airways operate their flights from these airports.


Land And Water
National Road No 6 and National road No 5 can be used to reach Siem Reap by road from Phnom Penh. Transportation on these routes is easily available on both ends.

Travel by waterway along the Sap River and Tonle Sap Lake is popular nowadays and is an option worth considering.


Local Transport
It is advisable to hire a local tourist guide from the Siem Reap Airport who will bring the tourist around the whole of Angkor area. It is safe to have a local guide who will function as a chauffer too. The guide's car will take the tourist to all the places around Angkor.

Motorbikes for hire are available too, though it is advisable to take a driver cum guide along.


Travel Resources


Tourist Information Centre
Angkor Tourism Desk
Grand Hotel D'Angkor
Siem Reap, Seam Reap
Cambodia

Airlines
Siem Reap Airport is 7 km west of town.

Bangkok Airways
Route 6
Tel: 380191, 380192

Royal Air Cambodge Office
#362 Route 6
Siam Reap


Banks
Cambodia Commercial Bank
V.Sivutha,
South from Route 6
Siem Reap

1st Overseas Bank
344 Krom, 7 Mondol
Siem Reap


Banks
General Post Office
Pokambor Street,
3 blocks South of Route 6
Next to Police Station
Siem Reap

Hospitals
There are many pharmacies and medical labs in Siem Reap that provide basic medical care facilities.

 

Information from: http://www.travelershub.com