Henri Mahout's discovery of the Angkor temples in 1860 opened up this lost city to the world. The temples at Angkor are spread out over some 40 miles around the village of Siem Reap, about 192 miles from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.
|Angkor Discovery - Cambodia|
Regarded as the supreme masterpiece of Khmer architecture, the Temple of Angkor Wat was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu by King Suryavarman II, who reigned between AD 1131 and 1150. The Temple was constructed over a period of 30 years, and illustrates some of the most beautiful examples of Khmer and Hindu art.
Covering an area of about 81 hectares, the complex consists of five towers, which are presently shown on the Cambodian national flag. These towers are believed to represent the five peaks of Mount Meru, the Home of Gods and Center of the Hindu Universe. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls, narrating stories from Hindu Mythology.
A moat and three galleries encircle the five central shrines. From the west one approaches the first outer gallery over a long bridge over the moat. The first gallery has square pillars on the outer side and a closed wall on the inner side. The ceiling between the pillars is decorated with lotus rosettes, the closed wall is decorated with dancing figures. On the outside the inner wall is decorated with pillared windows, apsaras (heavenly nymphs) and dancing male figures on prancing animals. Apsaras are found on the walls of all galleries. From the first gallery a long avenue leads to the second gallery. This is reached via a raised platform with lions on both sides of a staircase. The inner walls of the second gallery contain continuous narrative relief. The western wall shows scenes from the Mahabharata. The third gallery encloses the five shrines which are built on a raised terrace and are interconnected by galleries.
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