Thursday, May 7, 2009

Phnom Bakheng: The mountain temple at Angkor

Hello Everyone,
Like I mentioned in my last post, we were able to visit one temple our first evening in Seam Reap.  Our tuk-tuk driver suggested going to Phnom Bakheng because it sat on top of one of the few natural hills in the area and is a great place to view the sunset over the Siem Reap and Angkor areas.
Phnom Bahkeng is one of the many temples at Angkor and very close to Angkor Wat.  It was built about 100 years after Angkor Wat and consists of a stepped/terraced square pyramid with multiple towers on each terrace.  Many of the towers have fallen down.  You will notice in our pictures just how badly many of the temples have been eroded and fell into ruin over the centuries.  The cap stones were made of sandstone which does not weather very well, and none of the temples included reinforced masonry or any cement.  Like the Incas in Peru, stones were carved to fit together with nothing else binding them to one another.  The other huge loss to posterity is the erosion of some of the best stone sculpture that man has created.  So much of each temple was covered with sculpted bas reliefs or ornamentation that it defies comprehension, but since these sculptures were also made on the sandstone cap stones, much of the detail and intricacy has been lost to the ages.  :(
Unfortunately, we did not get a good view of the sunset this evening.  It was pretty humid and hazy, and rain showers started rolling in towards the temple.  It was still a very pleasant view and introduction to the Angkor site.


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