Ankor-Wat, Cambodia: Travel/Tourist Information Guide
Angkor Wat is the most famous site in Cambodia, and probably the entire Southeast Asia. Angkor Wat is actually one of the temples found at the Angkor Archaeological Park, which includes the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the 9th to the 15th century.
The site is enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage List, and has been voted repeatedly as one of the new wonders of the world; it is also known as the 7th Wonder of the World. Angkor Wat is by far the largest religious monument in the world. Its significance for the Cambodian people is perhaps best seen on the state flag, where it stands as the coat of arms.
The Gallery of Bas-reliefs, surrounding the first level of Angkor Wat, contains 1,200 square meters of sandstone carvings. The bas-reliefs are divided into eight sections, two on each wall of the square gallery, with each section depicting a specific theme. Themes for the bas-reliefs derive from two main sources-Indian epics and sacred books and warfare of the Angkor Period.
The West Gallery depicts the Battle of Kurukshetra, the main subject of the Hindu epic Mahabharata. The bas-reliefs in the southwest Corner Pavilion depict scenes from the epic Ramayana.
The South Gallery depicts triumphal procession from a battle between the Khmers, led by King Suryavarman II, and their enemies, while the East Gallery, probably the most famous one, derives from the Indian epic Bagavata-Pourana.
The West Gallery is dedicated to the battle between Rama and the demon king Ravana, which has 10 heads and 20 arms, which took place in Sri Lanka and was described in the Ramayana. This battle is depicted near the center of the Gallery.
Finally, the North Gallery depicts the battle between Krishna and Bana, the Demon King.
Interestingly, the Angkor Archaeological Park is inhabited by the local Khmer villagers, who still practice rice cultivation in the area. Most of the inhabitants living here are direct descendants of the Khmer who lived here during the Angkor period.
All things considered, this mysterious and iconic site is definitely a must-see in Cambodia. A nice idea might be booking one of many tours to the surrounding villages, where Khmer people still practice the same traditional ways of their famous ancestors.