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Who has not heard of the Angkor Archaeological Park? Located in northern Cambodia, this place is one of the most famous and important archaeological parks in the whole of Southeast Asia.
This place stretches over a good 400 sq. kms. The park contains the splendid and magnificent remains of the Kher temples. The Kher Empire was one of the most powerful empires to rule between the 9th and 15th century. The most famous ruins here are the Temple of Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple etc. These temples are very well known for their sculptures.
The park was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. UNESCO has also provided a vigilant programme to ensure the safety of the park and the surrounding areas.
The temples here are symbolic in nature. Many temples at the Angkor Archaeological Park are surrounded by water moats, topped by 5 towers and also built in the shape of a mountain. These represent the 5 peaks of the mythical Mount Meru. The Shiva linga (representing Lord Shiva) is also found in most of the temple rooms, if not all.
Initially these temples were built as Hindu temples but later on they came under the Buddhist influence and hence these temples also have many Buddha images.
One mystifying factor of these temples is the water reservoir or the “baray” that has been built in all its grandeur around Angkor. There is a huge debate on whether the purpose of these reservoirs was political or religious or plain functional. This is primarily because not a single outlet has been found here.
The gateway to this park is the Siem Reap City. There is no accommodation available within the park. Siem Reap City is close to the park and hosts many hotels and restaurants. The Park entrance is located around 3km north of the city.
Pre-Plan your Trip to Angkor
Visits to the Angkor Archeological Park have to be pre-planned as you have to book your hotels and also get your admission pass. You also must ideally pre-plan your temple itinerary (as there are dozens of temple ruins inside the park), book a tour guide (you need someone to tell you the history and significance of every ruin you are seeing) and arrange transportation. Alternately you can purchase a guide book that will tell you all that you want to know. All this will ensure that your stay and visit to the temples goes smoothly.
If your plan is for a day, you can see only the highlights of famous temples. If you plan to spend 3 days, you have time to visit all the major temples just once. However to completely visit the entire park, you would require a full 7 days. This gives you enough time to visit and revisit your favorite temples without having to rush.
It is advisable to wear light, airy clothes and keep sunscreen, scarves, and mosquito repellent creams to keep both the sun and mosquitoes at bay. You should wear practical and flat shoes as you have to walk a lot and climb uneven surfaces. For those wanting to do in-depth exploration, a flashlight and compass is a must have.
The temples are located at a considerable distance from each other and hence there are different modes of transport that you can consider using. You can hire motor cycle trailers, taxis or rent a bicycle, car or motorcycle. This can be taken care of, by your hotel or travel agent.
You will find a number of peddlers offering books, eatables, drinks, trinkets etc throughout the park.
So book your tour, step back in time and get lost in the mythical world of the Angkor temples.