One of the primary attractions to visiting Siem Reap in Cambodia is the famous “Angkor Wat” temple. You can read more about its history at Wikipedia. We dedicated a good portion of a day for our visit. The weather was pleasantly cool, but this was unfortunately due in part to overcast skies most of the day. So, our photos outside the temple are somewhat gloomy.
The main entrance is through the West Gate of the temple grounds. A common site at the end of bridge balustrades are Naga – a shroud of snakes – “guarding” it. You also often find demons, lions, and gods. The journey starts with a bridge over the wide “moat” of water which completely surrounds the grounds and signifies the “celestial cosmos” around the temple. You can see this easily from Google Maps. Inside the first gate you see the main temple with its five towers, reflection pools, and several structures around the temple. This includes off to the side areas with locals selling souvenirs and food. We saw kids riding a very decorated horse who was later being fed by its handler. We also saw some monks studying english near a shrine in the monk complex.
Finally, we entered the outer temple wall which contains huge bas relief carvings on it’s long walls. The first depicts a tale of a great battle. All around the walls you also find sculptures of “apsaras” which are “celestial nymphs”. You find these around all the temples in the area as well. I took a 360 panoramic sphere inside one corner of this portion of the temple.The most famous bas relief is the one entitled “Churning of the Sea of Milk“. This carving depicts demons and gods who are pulling on a large Naga (snake) and producing an elixer of immortality. Read more about this at Wikipedia. I took 180 degree panoramas of these bas relief that give you a better perspective of these walls. I think my Galaxy S4 phone does a great job with these panoramas! Check them out as photospheres at Google+ here.
Next we entered the outer courtyard and then climbed up to the inner courtyard surrounding the temple. I took another 360 panorama of one corner of this courtyard as well.
Then we climbed the steep stairs up into the main temple. You have great views of the grounds from up there. Also close-up views of the towers from the inner temple courtyards. There are also shrines at the inner-most part of the temple.
It was an amazing experience that we will remember for a lifetime. Check out the photos I have processed so far for a taste of what we saw.
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