[Apsaras at Bayon at Angkor Thom]
Just before dawn, the towers of Angkor Wat are ink shadows etched under the paling indigo of blue of the tropical night. The first hint of dawn washes the sky with pink and reveals the mist wreathing the stones. The sun rises behind the temple’s luxuriant forest, and the first rays gild the pinnacle of the central sanctuary. Gradually the light slides down the towers, bathing the walls and galleries, and strengthens from apricot to gold as the sun enriches the spectrum until the great monument glows from within. It is a transcendental experience.
[No photographers visit to Angkor Wat will be finished without this shot. Come on reflection, giant temple do the math]
[A french tour group climbs the inner pyramid of the temple.]
Even without the romance of sunshine, or the most frequently watched sunset, when the towers are reflected in the ceremonial pool in the front of the monument. Angkor Wat is overwhelming. We are awed by vast achievements like the pyramids of ancient Egypt, and by the inspired blend of iconography, form and spirituality of Java’s Borobudur or the symmetry of the Taj Mahal. But none surpasses the Angkor Wat, with its perfect fusion of symbolism, structure and scale.
This astonishing architectural masterpiece in Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Kingdom from the ninth century, was built in the first half of the twelfth century by Suryavarman 2, who reigned from 1113 until the mid century. It is hard to believe that this enormous marvel was built to appease the religious fervor of just one person. It is believed that only Suryavarman itself used the temples to worship devraja during his lifetime and the inner sanctums of which were inaccessible to anybody but him and the high priest. Oh well he was a god king.
The sunrise as I described in the first paragraph was magnificent - going early coupled by the fact that it is low season let me escape the day-tripping hordes. I walked around the temples in Angkor Thom but more about that later. As for Angkor Wat I think I'll go see it again tomorrow.
Tomorrow my post on Khmer Food - Yum !