The largest religious structure in the world is also the most visited tourist destination in northwestern Cambodia; so much so, that people often erroneously use its name, Angkor Wat, to refer to the entire Angkor Archeological Park in which it resides, where it is actually only one of many sites. Also called â€œthe city which is a temple,â€ Angkor Wat demands multiple visits to take it all in. We oblige it.
Angkor Watâ€™s interiors are just as impressive as its towers, which, on our first morning here, we climb to await the sunrise; its galleries of intricate bas reliefs tell no less than the history of the universe — the â€œchurning of the ocean of milkâ€; its immense grounds, causeways, and moats contain a thousand discoveries and were laid out according to Hindu and Buddhist cosmic numerology. These things are worthy of the Gods and certainly of your time and attention, dear reader, but once again, there just isn’t time. Iâ€™ll limit myself to these few shots of Angkor Wat in all its famous, full-frontal grandeur, taken during three separate visits (so far):
There is Angkor Wat behind a happily sketching monk; Angkor Wat reflected in a pond of lotuses (with the orange dot of the same monk visible on the steps); Angkor Wat from a dogâ€™s eye view; Angkor Wat behind a retreating column of tired tourists; and last, but not least, Angkor Wat under the broad curve of a rare December rainbow, a shot my guesthouse owner says he’s been trying to get for years.
â€œAngkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal.â€
–D.H. Dickason, 1937