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  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

  • Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonders

    known for the magnificent Angkor Wat Temple and the natural marvel, Tonle Sap Lake. Every year more visitors flock to Cambodia to discover for themselves just what wonders it has to offer.

Angkor the City of Temples
 

Angkor is a name conventionally applied to the region of Cambodia serving as the seat of the Khmer empire that flourished from approximately the 9th century to the 15th century A.D. (The word "Angkor" itself is derived from the Sanskrit "nagara," meaning "city"). Angkor was a highly developed civilization, as demonstrated by its temples, sculpture and bas-reliefs, as well as its elaborate irrigation system. More precisely, the Angkorian period may be defined as the period from 802 A.D., when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself the "universal monarch" and "god-king" of Cambodia, until 1431 A.D., when Thai invaders sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south to the area of Phnom Penh.

The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland to the north of the Great Lake (Tonle Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern day Siem Reap, and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick rubble scattered through rice fields to the magnificent 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. Visitor numbers approach two million annually.  And here are some highly recommended temples for your visit.

Angkor Wat
Behold Angkor Wat, truly one of the wonders of the world. It was built in early 12th century by King Suryavarman II as his state temple and the capital of the city. Indeed translated Angkor Wat means ‘City Temple.’ The temple is located just seven kilometres outside Siem Reap town and every year thousands upon thousands of people come from all over the world to glaze up at this marvel.

The temple is still extremely well preserved and efforts are currently being made to keep it so. It is widely acknowledged to be the most spectacular display of early Cambodian architecture. You cannot help but stop in awe at what was created by these ancient peoples with nothing but sweat of their brow and pure dedication. The three distinctive towers are reflected in the country’s national flag. Angkor Wat has and always will be a testament to the Khmer people and a great source of pride.

Ta Prohm
Without a doubt, the most enchanting and mysterious of all the temples of Angkor; the forest has reclaimed this temple as its own. This beautiful monastery-temple was built in the late 12th or early 13th century by King Jayavarman VII. The incredible giant fig trees are now intertwined with the ruins of the temple and give a unique almost romantic atmosphere. Ta Prohm, unlike the other temples, has not had any restoration other than clearing the path.

Bayon
Bayon was built by Jayavarman VII in the late 12th to early 13th century as his state temple. The tall face towers have become a very recognizable symbol of Khmer architecture. Thirty seven towers currently stand although it is thought that there were once around forty nine. There is quite a lot of dispute among the historical community about who the faces are supposed to depict. This only makes the temple all the more intriguing and mysterious. While you glaze up at the ancient face you cannot help but wonder what could conjure up such a warm and knowing smile. This is definitely not one to miss!  

Banteay Srei
This remarkable little temple is not part of the Angkor Thom Complex but sits alone near the foot of Phnom Kulen, a mountain over twenty kilometers from Siem Reap. It was constructed in the second half of the 10th century by King Rajendravarman’s counselor, Yajnavaraha. Translated Banteay Srei means ‘Citadel of Women’ and it often described as the ‘Jewel of Khmer Art’. All surfaces of the temple are covered in intricate and elaborate designs some astonishing well preserved. This temple is very unique and well worth a visit.
 
Banteay Samre
This temple is a little off the beaten track so often gets overlooked by tourists which is perfect if you need a break from the crowds. You can appreciate this Angkor Wat-styled temple in peace. It has been given quite extensive restoration and many of the carvings are in very good condition.

Ta Keo
This huge temple was built in the late 10th to early 11th century as the state temple of King Jayavarman V. The location was considered untraditional as previous Kings had all placed their state temple in the centre of their capital. It must have been very big undertaking as it was made entirely made of sandstone. The five massive towers are said to represent Mount Meru; indeed in inscriptions it is referred to as ‘Hema sringagiri’ with translated means ‘the Mountain with Golden Peaks.

Preah Khan
This temple was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century, however it was not only an active place of worship and monastery but a Buddhist University with, it is recorded, over a thousand teachers. The king dedicated this temple to his beloved father, Dharanindravarman. It has many architecture similarities as Ta Prohm which was in turn dedicated to the king’s mother, Prajnaparamita. The name Preah Khan means ‘sacred sword.

Neak Pean
This unique monument is set on a small circular island in the centre of a pool. To the north, south, east and west are smaller ponds which historians think could symbolize Anavatapta, the sacred Himalayan lake; the source of four great rivers. It was built in the late 12th century by Jayavarman VII. In the central pool to the east of the monument is Balaha the horse, although incomplete you can see a group of men clinging to his body. It is said he was helping sea merchants escape from ogress.  

Pre Rup
King Rajendravarman had this temple made in the middle of the 10th century and had it as his state temple. It was built with a combination of brick, laterite and sandstone which gives it a pleasant reddish tone which looks particularly appealing in the early morning or late afternoon light. Pre Rup was a Hindu temple and the king had it dedicated it to the God, Shiva; the destroyer.

Prasat Kravan
This rather unusual Hindu temple was built in the early 10th century by either King Harshavarman I or King Isanavarman II, who both only reigned for short periods of time. The temple consists of five sanctuaries in a row made of brick. The interior holds unique bas-reliefs which are the only known examples of this style of Khmer art.  

Banteay Kdei
Built in the Bayon style in the late 12th to early 13th century, Banteay Kdei was constructed during King Jayavarman VII but later enlarged by King Indravarman II. It was originally constructed over the site of another temple and served the function of a Buddhist monastery. It has not had much restoration and poor quality sandstone from which it was made means it has not been very well preserved.

Bakong
This ancient temple was built in the late 9th century by King Indravarman as the state temple of his capital, Hariharalaya. The central tower was built very high up so the worshiper could be closer to the Gods, it has four separate staircases up to the shrine which are very steep. Bakong was the first was ever temple-mountain and was dedicated to the Hindu God, Shiva. 

Lolei
If you can believe it Lolei temple was originally set upon a small island. King Indravarman I had prepared an island stable enough to hold a temple but it was his son King Yasovarman I who completed the project. Lolei was built by the king to honour his ancestors; each of the four towers represent a member of his family. The two larger towers are for his grandparents, the smaller two for his parents.


Beng Mealea
This temple still remains a bit of a mystery. It is thought it have been made in the middle of the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II however it is not known who built it. Although this person must have undoubtedly been someone of great importance no inscriptions have ever been found to indicate who it might have been. Beng Mealea has not been restored and is very much in the condition it was first discovered.

Koh Ker
Koh Ker was the temporary capital city of the Khmer Empire between in the mid 9th century under King Jayavarman IV. The Koh Ker site’s most distinctive feature is a 30-metre tall temple mountain, Prasat Thom. An amazing view of the plain and the surrounding forest await anyone willing to climb the steep staircase to the top.