Mystery of Angkor – from childhood dream to reality – Bangkok Hue part 3

Angkor Wat

When I was in elementary school I remember receiving a book from my Mum as a birthday present. It was called “Strange Worlds Amazing Places” published by Reader’s Digest (polish edition). I think this was the first book that made me want to see distant lands. Beautiful pictures encouraged my imagination. I traveled before I got this book, seen a lot of Europe & USA mainly. This book allowed me to dream further that civilization known to me. And so I came across Angkor for the first time that I can remember.

Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple

The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from piles of bricks to the well  maintained Angkor Wat, said to be the world’s largest single religious monument. Many of the temples at Angkor have been restored, and together they comprise the most significant site of Khmer architecture. Before getting to Cambodia I was

Apsaras, divine nymphs or celestial dancing girls

Apsaras, divine nymphs or celestial dancing girls

convinced the whole area was called Angkor Wat and didn’t consist of more than 3 to 4 temples, this only means I didn’t do my homework and read more about it. Later I found out that Angkor Wat is only one of the temples on 400 square km site where the  capitals of Khmer Empire were once located – please note plural – capitals. Over five centuries Khmers were major power in south-east Asia. Each emperor added splendor to Angkor building magnificent temples, reservoirs or terraces:

  • Bakong now called Roulos – finished in 811 was a state temple of king Indravarman, dedicated to Shiva;
  • Preah Ko – built around 880 by the same ruler in memory of the royal ancestors;
  • Lolei – dedicated in 893 by Yasovarman I to Shiva and to members of the royal family;
  • Phnom Bakeng – located atop a hill is nowadays a popular tourist spot for sunset views of the much bigger temple Angkor Wat;
Ta Keo

Ta Keo

Angkor Wat

  • Thommanon – mall and elegant temple dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu;
  • Bayon – dedicated to Buddha was a state temple of Jayavarman VII;

Bayon Temple

  • Ta Prohm – founded by Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university;

Ta Prohm

Do you remember Mortal Kombat & Mortal Kombat II? I always thought at least one of them was filmed in Angkor but in fact for both pictures were taken in Thailand. Although the Temple of Ta Prohm was used as a location in Tomb Raider. There were of course other films made there, among them The Killing Fields (1984), In The Mood for Love (2000), City of Ghosts (2002) and Two Brothers (2003).

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Fancy a further read? Follow the links: Khmer architecture, Country profile,

5 comments

  1. Fascinating! Are these areas exclusively tourist sites now or are some still used as religious sites? Did you walk inside any of them? (I assume they are as highly decorated inside as out, but I’d love to know.)

    1. Some of them are used as religious sites during holidays but I also we met some worshipers when we were sightseeing. I will put up some more photos. Of course you may walk inside and explore the temples, some areas are closed though because of different reasons among them security as not all objects have been restored.

  2. Thanks for ur info.. I’ll surely visit these temples in the next 5 years. These temples are built by ancient tamil kings. I am proud to be i am from tamil nadu.
    Is there any poojas are been doing there?

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