So after touring many of the smaller temples yesterday we had finally built up to the largest temple: Angkor Wat. The sheer size of this temple is amazing. It is a Hindu temple, which was built over 37 years. Although the structure was completed, the carvings weren’t finished when building stopped. It’s hard to tell that, though. Most walls are completely covered with intricate carvings detailing the history of Cambodia, its empire, wars with its neighbours, as well as Cambodian mythology. Stunning and a lot to take in.
And especially a lot to take in it you get up at 4:30 am and leave the hostel at 5am in order to see the sun rising from behind Angkor Wat. This clearly isn’t a secret, as there were tons of people lining the moat for the best picture angles.
Really, this temple speaks for itself with size and intricate carvings. Two things that struck me. One, the stairs are incredibly steep! When I asked Souki, our guide, about this, he explained it that the steep stairs help build a stronger foundation and since these are places of worship (all of the temples seem to have these impossible steep stairs) that it should be somewhat of a sacrifice to climb to enter the temple. If you are crippled or have to crawl up the stairs it is part of the sacrifice to worship in the temple. The second thing that struck me was that the vaulted ceilings were carved only up to a certain height. Towards the top of each wall, where the ceiling started to cave in to create the dome, the stones there weren’t carved. In fact, they weren’t finished at all. They were rough as if they had just been cut to measure. It turns out, there was meant to be a carved wooden ceiling on each of these areas, which has since been looted or destroyed. In one area, however, you can see a replica of what the ceiling would have looked like.
An awesome and spiritual place for sure.