Pictures of Angkor   Cambodia TEMPLES OF ANGKOR
Pictures of Angkor Wat and other ancient Khmer temples
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EXPLORING THE RUINS
OF OLD ANGKOR

The old Khmer kingdom, one of the great powers of south-east Asia, established its capital cities at Angkor in present-day Cambodia.  Driven by spiritual devotion and architectural ambition, the skilled and war-like Khmer rulers built many temples here, some on a massive scale.  Their accomplishments reached a zenith with the construction of the great temple of Angkor Wat.  Nine centuries later, it remains the largest religious building in the world...

Vishnu at Angkor Wat
A statue of the Hindu god Vishnu, with eight arms, at Angkor Wat.
Celestial temples of the Khmer
Between the 9th and 13th centuries, the Khmer kings built a succession of spectacular temples at Angkor.  The most magnificent, Angkor Wat, was built in the early 12th century by Saryavarman II.  This was the classical age of the Khmer civilization when temples were devoted to Hindu deities.  Later, there were more triumphs of Khmer architecture when Jayavarman VII built the atmospheric Buddhist temples of Ta Phrom and Bayon.
Photo of Bayon temple
Giant faces of the Bayon
The Bayon is one of the strangest temples at Angkor.  The towers of this Buddhist sanctuary are studded with numerous smiling and enigmatic faces, each around 2 meters high.  They represent the bodhisattva Lokeshvara but carry the features of the temple's apparently egotistic builder, Jayavarman VII.
Picture of Angkor, Cambodia
Faces of the bodhisattva Lokeshvara tower over a gate into Angkor Thom, the walled city built by Jayavarman VII.
Monks at Angkor
Buddhist monks at Angkor.  Some of the ancient temples are still used as sacred religious centers.

The splendor of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is the greatest of the Angkor temples.  This immense and complex structure serves as a testimony to the phenomenal achievements that can be spurred by religious passion.  Built during the reign of Suryavarman II in the 12th century, it was originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu with whom the king identified.  Later, it became a Buddhist monastery after the Khmer kingdom embraced Buddhism.

Angkor Wat was built to portray Hindu cosmology and includes an immense temple-mountain.  The five central towers represent the peaks of mythical Mount Meru - the home of Hindu gods.  The temple is reflected in pools that may have represented the primeval ocean.
 
Picture of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat photo
Nearly nine centuries after it was built, the monumental Angkor Wat remains one of the architectural wonders of the world.
Angkor Wat picture
Devatas - guardian spirits or angels - carved in stone at Angkor Wat.
Ta Prohm: Embraced by the jungle

The ruined temple of Ta Prohm, built by king Jayavarman VII, is one of the most atmospheric to be found in the hot and humid forests of Angkor.  Over the centuries, huge trees have invaded the temple buildings and now their vast root systems embrace crumbling walls.

Ta Prohm temple
Ta Prohm temple
Picture of Ta Prohm temple
 
 
Masterpieces of Khmer art
The Angkor temples have an imposing grandeur, but they also feature some intricate stone carvings.  The most extensive of these depict scenes from mythology and Khmer history, and stretch for several hundred meters round the Angkor Wat and Bayon temples.  Perhaps the most exquisite are at the small temple of Banteay Srei.
 
Khmer temple art Khmer temple art
Intricate bas-reliefs at the temple of Banteay Srei are a tribute to the skilled Angkor stonemasons.
Temple art at Angkor
Bas-relief galleries surround much of the mighty Angkor Wat temple like stone manuscripts.  The carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology.

 

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