Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most culturally significant sites in Cambodia. It shows a fascinating period in early Khmer culture and a powerful symbol of the country’s heritage. And temples are the main reason for most tourists or travelers to come to Cambodia, especially Siem Reap.
The existence over a thousand temples, and the one that well-known is Angkor Wat temple that got the World Heritage Site in 1992 as the largest monument temple in the world.
Moreover, it is known for the most beautiful religious construction complexity and amazing spots for the sunrise view most of all the other temples surrounding. There is a special time during the year that the sun rises above the top middle of those five towels that attract a million tourists nationally and internationally chase for the wonderful photos shooting. Beyond that, there are many more interesting and unique temples hidden in the deep jungle that made the visitors feel the spiritual moment adventurously.
Angkor Wat Sunrise
Most of the travelers know Angkor Wat by its name of an enormous religious temple complex located in northern Cambodia. It was originally built in the first half of the 12th century as a Hindu temple. It stands across more than 400 acres, Angkor Wat is said to be the largest religious monument in the world. Its name, which translates to “temple city” in the Khmer language of the region, references the fact it was built by Emperor Suryavarman II, who ruled as the state temple and political center of his empire. Basically, it was dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple by the end of the 12th century. However, when it was built, it served as the capital of the Khmer empire, which ruled the region at the time. The word “Angkor” means “capital city” in the Khmer language, while the word “Wat” means “temple.” The compliment can likely be attributed to the temple’s design, which is supposed to represent Mount Meru, the home of the gods, according to tenets of both the Hindu and Buddhist faiths. Its five towers are intended to recreate the five peaks of Mount Meru, while the walls and moat below honor the surrounding mountain ranges and the sea. The temple walls are decorated with thousands of bas-reliefs representing important deities and figures in the Hindu and Buddhist religions as well as key events in its narrative tradition. There is also a bas-relief depicting Emperor Suryavarman II entering the city, perhaps for the first time following its construction.
By finishing the Angkor Wat, our scooter teams will take you through the ancient city wall of Angkor Thom (big city) that standing there so stunned, and it is like nothing else in the land. Bayon is located in the center of the city of Angkor Thom 1500 meters from the south gate, the entering tower of the Bayon is from the east side. It was built in the late 12th century to early 13th century, by King Jayavarman VII which was dedicated to Buddhism. Bayon temple was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat but the basic structure and earliest part of the temple ate not known exactly. Since it was located at the center of a royal city, it seems possible that the Bayon would have originally been a temple-mountain conforming to the symbolism of a microcosm of Mount Meru. The Bayon of today belongs to the third and last phase of the art style with over 200 large faces carved on the 54 towers give this temple its majestic character. The characteristics of this face – a broad forehead, downcast eyes, wild nostrils, thick lips that curl upwards slightly at the ends-combination to reflect the famous ‘Smile of Angkor Empire’. The interior of the Bayon, the one a visitor first encounters, is a square gallery on the ground or first level, and this gallery is interspersed with eight entry towers – one in each corner and one in the middle of each side. All of the eight structures are in the shape of a cross. The gallery was probably originally covered with a root, perhaps wood of the natural invasion when it was abandoned.
Preah Khan Temple
Preah Khan temple is complex and situated at the northern edge of the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is also known as one of the most significant buildings erected during the ancient Khmer empire. It was built in the dedication by the great king Jayavarman VII to his father in 1191, and Preah Khan serves today as an outstanding example of a large linear temple complex in a dense jungle setting. Rectangular in shape and occupying 138 acres, of its boundaries are defined by a protective moat and fortified walls adorned by monumental carved stone garudas—eagle-like divine beings. The temple complex includes entryways, towers, ceremonial spaces, courtyards, shrines, and a variety of connecting corridors. Additional special features of Preah Khan include its two-story pavilion, the once-bronze-plated sanctum sanctorum, and its Hall of Dancers beautifully.
Ta Nei Temple
Ending from Preah Khan temple, we will take you into small trails in the jungle adventurously toward Ta Nei temple. It is located in the forest and can only be reached with smaller vehicles, by using a track across the forest. It is located only 150 meters west of the East Baray, and only 150 meters south of a bend in the Siem Reap river. The temple was one of many commissioned by king Jayavarman VII and was dedicated to the Buddha. The present name of the temple, meaning “Old Nei” is a modern appellation that refers to one of the informal caretakers who lived on-site when the French conducted surveys of the temple in the mid-20th century. The temple’s inner enclosure measures 46 x 27m, but it is obvious from the plan that it was originally intended to be 35 x 27m. Hemmed in by these two borders, the area was probably once densely settled, as there are significant traces of masonry and foundations in the immediate area which are now obscured by the forest. The overall temple’s layout follows the usual motif at Angkor with a central sanctuary surrounded by multiple enclosures. At Ta Nei, only the inner enclosure was ever fully built, with the east and west gopuras the only completed portions of the planned second enclosure. Ta Nei offers one of the few chances to experience a kind of Angkor exploration or to fulfill one’s dreams of visiting the ancient temple ruins hidden in the jungle and aborting nature. There are many of the structures in the temple court that have collapsed and it is difficult to walk around over stones and boulders. Nevertheless, this is exactly why Ta Nei is an extraordinary Khmer temple experience and worth a visit.
Not further away from Angkor Thom, there are plenty of restaurants that you can choose to try Khmer dishes locally. It is affordable and rich in flavor with the Khmer kitchen style. Each dish can be preferred by your satisfaction of meat and taste you prefer, but I would recommend trying the original taste authentically. The most popular dishes are Fish Amok, Ma Chu Kroang beef, and Som Lor Ktoey pork rib. Not only foods are so delicious, but also the tropical fresh fruits shake or juice that fill up your energy to explore more temple secrets for the whole trip. There, you find all the warm smiles and friendly services from the start until the end of your meals interestingly.
Ta Prom Temple
After filling up your energy with noon meals, you will be taken straight to Ta Prohm. Undoubtedly, the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor, Ta Prohm should be high on the hit list of every visitor. Its appeal lies in the fact that unlike the other monuments of Angkor, it has been swallowed by the jungle, and looks very much the way most of the monuments of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. It is well known by the movie ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ that filmed by Angelina Julie, and it is cloaked in dappled shadow, its crumbling towers and walls locked in the slow muscular embrace of vast root systems that made it unique from other-worldly experiences. Being built in 1186 and originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm is a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII respectfully. It is one of the few temples in the Angkor region where an inscription provides information about the temple’s dependents and inhabitants. Ta Prohm is a temple of towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors with many of the corridors are impassable, clogged with jumbled piles of delicately carved stone blocks dislodged by the roots of long-decayed trees. Bas-reliefs on bulging walls are carpeted with lichen, moss, and creeping plants, and shrubs sprout from the roofs of monumental porches. Surprisingly, trees withs hundreds of years old, tower overhead, their leaves filtering the sunlight and casting a greenish pall over the whole scene. There is a poetic cycle to this venerable ruin, with humanity first conquering nature to rapidly create, and nature once again conquering humanity to slowly destroy. Many of these precariously balanced stones weigh a tone or more and would do some serious damage if they came down. Ta Prohm is currently under stabilization and restoration by an Indian team of archaeologists working with their Cambodian counterparts.