Inside the Park Home Runs

Inside the Park Home Runs

Angkor Exploring Part 7 of 7: This is the final installment of our experiences visiting Siem Reap and the surrounding area while we are offline in Myanmar.  Articles may load slowly due to the number of photos, but it’ll be worth the wait.  We are presenting the sites in chronological order of construction, the same order in which we visited them.  After providing “Angkor Exploring” as a frame of reference, we will share tips on how to make the most of your trip to one of the world’s wonders.

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The massive Angkor Archaeological Park is often referred to as “Angkor Wat”, but there are many temples within the park for various reasons.  Below are some of the must-sees within the park.  Again presented in chronological order, these were generally built after the structures in Time Traveling to Angkor Wat, and are contemporaries to the temples that have been featured individually (Bayon, Banteay Srei, Angkor Wat, and Beng Mealea).  For photo collections of the Angkor Kingdom click here.

Preah Rup (State Temple, 961 AD)

Built as the state temple for King Rajendravarman, it is beautiful due to the mixture of colors produced by various types of rocks.  The center tower still contains a shrine, but the guard will share with you a secret: make a sound with Tarzan ferocity and it will echo as if you are a god.

Phimeanakas (Celestial Temple, 950 AD)

Continuing in the tradition of pyramids as state temples, Phimeanakas is a three-tiered pyramid, the difference was that if the King didn’t come each night the king calamity would strike his land.  Faithfully he would arrived and the Empire continued.

Baphuon (State Temple, 1060 AD)

Rising anew as one of the most magnificent Angkor pyramids, the fact Baphuon exists today is extraordinary.  As the Angkor Empire grew in power, so did the ambitions of it’s Kings, leading Udayadityavarman II to build what was believed to be the greatest.  Adjoining the Royal Palace within Angkor Thom, it has lost it’s tower which was adorned in bronze and envied by the Emperor of China in the 13th century.

The pride and ambition of the King though was not matched by his Kingdom’s engineering might.  With a base made of sand and chambers on all the levels, it eventually collapsed.  The French government stepped in during the 1960s to put it together on stronger footing.

Block-by-block they took it apart, labeling each, and creating a map.  The mapping was crucial due to this being a preindustrial creation, there was no standardization of blocks.  Each block has a specific place.  There were 300,000 blocks that needed to be put back in a specific order.  Twelve years into the project, the the Khmer Rogue took power in 1975, and sacked the office that held the critical information.  The 300,000 stone blocks sat near where they belonged, but nobody knew where they went.

In 1995 a French team returned to attempt reconstruction.  Luckily some of the team that took it apart, 35 years earlier were still living, but it is only nearing completion now, 16 years of since they began.  (More information)

Ta Prohm (Family Memorial, 1186 AD)

Beginning a period of intense construction within the Angkor Empire, Ta Prohm was built by Jayavarman VII to commemorate his family.  His family’s memory lives on in this temple, but also in our memory as the “Tomb Raider” temple, as it was featured in the film.  The jungle had taken hold of this temple, causing many areas to cave in, but recent restoration efforts have removed trees and are putting it back together.  Throughout it is filled with great carvings and is one of the tourist favorites.

Want to walk the halls the same halls as Angelina Jolie?  Click here to see our Ta Prohm photo gallery.

Preah Kahn (Holy Sword, 1191 AD)

If it weren’t for Angelina Jolie, Preah Kahn would be the most recognized “jungle” temple within the Park.  Trees have taken hold of major halls and caused collapses, twists and turns in the buildings.  Nonetheless, this is an unheralded gem within the Park that is a less touristed must-see.  Throughout there are beautiful carvings and a few remaining sculptures, but the best part is being able to wander alone, away from the crowds, and better experience how it must have felt to walk these halls 1000 years ago, before hoards of tourists were snapping photos.

Preah Kahn amazed us enough to earn itself a photo gallery.  Click here to see more photos of Preah Kahn.

Ta Som (Dedicated to King’s Father, ~1190 AD)

Built in honor of Jayavarman VII‘s father, Ta Som is losing to “strangler” fig trees and is another great jungle temple, the main gate is among the most beautiful of all of the temple’s due to it’s personal relationship with it’s strangler.

The main entry, down a path similar to the gates of Angkor Thom, now shares it’s space with a massive tree.

Angkor Thom Gates (~1200 AD)

Angkor Thom (literally “Great City”) was ultimate capital of the Angkor Empire.  Some of the temples in this article exist within Angkor Thom, but you can’t get there without entering through it’s massive gates gazing down on you.

The path crossing the moat is lined with massive guardians.

Intricate Details

While introducing the must see sights within the heart of the Angkor Archaeological Park, I have skipped over many of the most important facets of visiting, the intricate details.  Here is a glimpse of some of the things you will find within the temples while you explore.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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