Friday, April 22, 2011

Angkor Wat

Well, here we are. Definitely far from home. Angkor Wat is THE temple in Cambodia, the most well made and most famous. It is a Hindu temple, but many gods crossover into Buddhism and are still worshipped today. Here's Vishnu, much restored and in modern garb--one of the first things most people see past the moat.

A rare photo at a usually hectic entrance

The temple and a reservoir still used today.

One of many great things about Angkor Wat is the huge reliefs telling the epic battle in the Ramayana of demons vs. monkeys. The monkeys are obviously winning. I had to enhance the photos like crazy to see the reliefs, the rock is very flat. Here's my favorite, Garuda taking out 4 horsed riders at once and Hanuman beating up two lions.

Another wall of reliefs, new to me, showed various levels of heaven and hell. This guy had it the worst, only an adulterer. He's literally getting nailed.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Tomb Raider

Cambodia has temples like New York has mailboxes. They are pretty hard to keep track of, especially since the Khmer keep switching between Hinduism and Buddhism. Angkor Wat is the most famous and well built temple, so it is used as a sort of focal point. I don't even remember the name of this temple (feel free to google it), so I call it Tomb Raider like most tourists because it was a setting for the movie. It's pre Angkorian and pretty small, but has huge character thanks to the fig trees growing around it, sometimes pulling it apart and sometimes holding it together. Like other Buddhist temples, it was defaced by a late king who converted Cambodia back to Hinduism. He only ruled for 5 years, but long enough to carve out every Buddha on every temple and put a third eye of Shiva (not even a very pretty eye) on the large faces. The temple walls had plates like a Stegasaurus all along the top, thousands and thousands of them, with a little seated Buddha, now all gone. Still, I feel that only adds to the history of the place, and this is one of my favorite temples.

You can see the third eye carved in this temple entrance.