on April 19, 2013
==Angkor Wat== is the most famous and largest of the temples in the complex. It is the largest religious monument in the world and is a spectacular thing to see. It was actually the last temple we visited on the recommendation of our driver, because many people make a beeline for that first and so it is quieter in the afternoon. It is a very popular place to see either the sunrise or the sunset as well because the views are spectacular. Another reason to visit it last is that it is the biggest and probably most impressive temple of the lot and there is something to be said for saving the best until last.Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II as his state temple and then mausoleum. It is was dedicated to Vishnu (rather than the Shaivist traditional of previous kings) and is the only one to have been in use since it was built. It is a very important structure in Cambodia and even appears on the national flag.The walk up to the temple impresses upon you just how magnificent this building is because it is surrounded all the way around by a huge moat. I couldn’t help but think about how imposing it must have felt to people making the same walk all those years ago. The building is very dark and the stone used to make it adds the imposing feel of the place. You can get some spectacular pictures from other side of the moat, in fact it is one of those buildings that would be impossible to take a bad picture of.Once you get inside, there is a massive courtyard type area sunk into the ground and you can walk all the way around. Something that took me by surprise was the sheer detail on the inside of the walls. Or somewhere so big, you don’t expect to see that much detail. The carvings were so intricate that it almost looked like wallpaper adorned the walls. There were even touches of colour all the way round which was amazing.Beyond the courtyard is the series of towers that make the building so domineering. You can actually climb up one of them but you must be wearing long trousers and have your shoulders covered to do so because it is the most sacred part of the temple and they simply will not let you up unless you are covered up (that applies to men and women alike). It is worth going up though, because the views are absolutely amazing. You can see all the other temples in the distance and appreciate just how big the place is. You can walk all the way around too, to get a good panoramic.Once you have come back down, walk around the back of the temple where there is a huge wall covered in carvings. We overheard one of the tour guides describing the carvings and they really are quite graphic and sometimes gruesome as they demonstrate the consequences of sin.I’d recommend leaving about an hour and a half to explore this temple.
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