Temple History

 

Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was built as a square, the sides of which run exactly north to south and east to west. Standing in the exact center of the walled city, Bayon Temple represents the intersection of heaven and earth.

Bayon is known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the "Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia." There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own.

Bayon Temple is surrounded by two long walls bearing an extraordinary collection of bas-relief scenes of legendary and historical events. In all, there are are total of more than 11,000 carved figures over 1.2km of wall. They were probably originally painted and gilded, but this has long since faded. If you enter Bayon by the east gate and view the reliefs in a clockwise direction, here's what you'll see:

Terrace of the Elephants

Terrace of the Elephants, Angkor, Cambodia
The Terrace of the Elephants (Khmer: ព្រះលានជល់ដំរី) is part of the walled city ofAngkor Thom, a ruined temple complex in Cambodia. The terrace was used by Angkor's king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. It was attached to the palace of Phimeanakas (Khmer: ប្រាសាទភិមានអាកាស), of which only a few ruins remain. Most of the original structure was made of organic material and has long since disappeared. Most of what remains are the foundation platforms of the complex. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.

The 350m-long Terrace of Elephants was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king's grand audience hall. It has five outworks extending towards the Central Square-three in the centre and one at each end. The middle section of the retaining wall is decorated with life size garuda and lions; towards either end are the two parts of the famous parade of elephants complete with their Khmer mahouts.

Bayon

Bayon temple, Angkor Thom
The last temple known to have been constructed in Angkor Thom was Mangalartha, which was dedicated in 1295. Thereafter the existing structures continued to be modified from time to time, but any new creations were in perishable materials and have not survived. In the following centuries Angkor Thom remained the capital of a kingdom in decline until it was abandoned some time prior to 1609, when an early western visitor wrote of an uninhabited city, "as fantastic as the Atlantis of Plato" which some thought to have been built by the Roman emperor Trajan. (Higham 140) It is believed to have sustained a population of 80,000-150,000 people.
Angkor Thom is in the Dom style. This manifests itself in the large scale of the construction, in the widespread use of laterite, in the back-towers at each of the entrances to the south cheack and in the naga-carrying giant monsters which accompany each of the towers.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm (Khmer: ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម) is the modern name of a temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara (in Khmer: រាជវិហារ). Located approximately one kilometre east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray, it was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors

Beng Mealea

Beng Mealea (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបឹងមាលា, its name means "lotus pond"[1]) is a temple in the Angkor Wat style located 40 km east of the main group of temples at Angkor, Cambodia, on the ancient royal highway to Preah Khan Kompong Svay.

The temple
It was built as hinduist temple, but there are some carvings depicting buddhist motifs[1]. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards and many of its stones lying in great heaps. For years it was difficult to reach, but a road recently built to the temple complex of Koh Ker passes Beng Mealea and more visitors are coming to the site, as it is 77 km from Siem Reap by road.

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