Posted by: travelrat | January 7, 2020

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat 4

Siem Riep: 11th November 2019

Cambodia claims to be the only country with a building on its flag. That building is, of course, the familiar profile of Angkor Wat, It’s not just a building, though; it’s a vast complex … indeed, the name means ‘temple city’. It’s claimed it’s the largest religious structure of any kind in the world. But, it’s only part of a huge complex.

It was ordered in the 12th Century by King Suryavarman II, of the Khmer Empire, as a temple to the Hindu god Vishnu. But, within a generation, Buddhism had replaced Hinduism as the main religion, and statues of the Hindu gods adapted to those of the Buddha. Even today, although some of the temple is in ruins, the walls ring to the chant of what, we assumed, are Buddhist prayers. Orange-robed monks are frequently seen, sometimes giving blessings. I don’t normally photograph people at their devotions, but the monk smiled and nodded when he saw my camera, so I assume no exception was taken. And. I put a donation in his bowl, earning another smile.

Angkor Wat 2

The instantly recognisable features of Angkor Wat are the five towers, which represent Mount Meru, the holy mountain of Hindus, said to be the abode of the gods. We saw, in a recent TV documentary, Sacred Places  with Sue Perkins, the ‘gardeners’ at Angkor Wat scale the perilous heights of the towers to painstakingly clear the plant life from the stonework to prevent it from suffering the same fate as other temples within the area.

Since you can’t go around knocking pitons into the stonework of a ‘sacred place’ and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, they do it without any protection whatsoever!

Angkor Wat 5


  1. Yes, and a big shout out to Sue Perkins for a brilliant series and to the fearless gardeners of Angkor Wat.

    • My hat is well and truly off to those gardeners! I might have considered that climb back in the day … but not without a few fathoms of rope and a lot of arcane ironmongery! 😀

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