Saturday, April 7, 2012

Angkor Thom, Seam Reap -Cambodia

Angkor Thom was an ancient city whose name means Great City in Khmer. It is said that it was founded by King Jaravarman VII in the late 12th century. This city was protected by a wall 8 m high, about 12 km long, and surrounded by a wide moat. The city has five gates –four facing the cardinal directions and an extra one on the east side- all bearing four giant stone faces. Within the city are several ruins, the most famous of which is the Bayon, an atmospheric temple at the center of this complex.
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The shouth Gate of Angkor Thom is surmounted by a large, four-faced carving of the devaraja (god-king), Jayavarman VII. He is depicted as the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, gazing somberly in the four cardinal directions for eternity.

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The imposing South Gate is the best preserved of the five gateways into Angkor Thom. The gate itself is a massive 23m high structure surmounted by a triple tower with four gigantic stone faces facing the cardinal directions.

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Its approach is via an impressive causeway flanked by around 150 stone statues, gods on the left side, demons on the right each carrying a giant serpent.

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This wide moat surrounds the ancient city.  Some posits that this is just a military strategy to be protected from invaders, but it makes much more sense if we considers the Hindu cosmology.  The moat represents the ocean and the ocean represents the source or genesis of life.

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The South Gate is flanked by statues of the three-headed elephant Erawan, the fabled mount of the Hindu god, Indra

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