on May 21, 2010
Angkor Wat is no doubt the most anticipated site on everyone’s list. Rightly so then, that after the initial gate is a long walkway to the main temple. A procession of visitors follow this path stopping off and on to photograph as much of the site in one picture as possible.As in Beijing and Bangkok, I always seem to visit major sites only to find scaffoldings. This was not the exception. There were also a few detours and corridors closed off.The lower passage way or outer most hall that circle the temple contained bas reliefs, such as detailed carvings of battles, every day life, deities and more. Some were darker than others which made for a clearer picture. I suspect these were some of the temple rubbings sold by the vendors.In the East gallery is the "Churning of the Sea of Milk" bas relief. Depicted here are demons and gods pulling on a serpent like a game of tug-of-war. The end result was to immortality and the creation of heavenly dancers and other mythical characters. The North gallery originally contained a statue of Shiva, a Hindu deity. The head was replaced with a Buddha head. The result of course, and almost laughlably, is a Buddha with multiple arms. It seemed a bit strange that a couple that was getting married at Angkor Wat was having their picture taken here. Very well preserved and beautiful, it seems that if they were very religious they would want a real Buddha icon and not a mix of deities. The Southern gallery with the depictions of Heaven and Hell was very interesting. The carvings of Hell were more detailed, larger and closer to eye level. Sinners were being dragged away in one scene and pleading for mercy in another. Perhaps sending a message? On the other hand in the same gallery was King Surayavarman gloriously shown riding an elephant into war.
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