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Photography Travels

[2616] Reward and punishment in the afterlife, at Angkor Wat

A friend of mine will be spending a number of days in Cambodia later this month. Upon learning her travel plans, I began to reminisced my long hot lazy Cambodian days. I began to imagine going through the temple ruins all over again, and the walks I walked, the rides I rode, the conversations I engaged in, the drinks I drank, even the diarrhea I suffered.

So at the end of my work day, I drove home and the first thing I did was to switch on my laptop and went through my Cambodia album all over again. Sigh…

You know this entry will be about Cambodia.

Angkor Wat has a number of impressive bass reliefs along its outer corridors. The famous one is the Churning of the Milky Ocean. The myth of the Churning of the Milky Ocean is an important narrative in Hinduism. I also learned a lot of Hindu mythology from Angkor Wat and its reliefs.

Below is a bas relief telling the story of reward and punishment in the afterlife from Hindu perspective.

Some rights reserved. Creative Commons 3.0. Hafiz Noor Shams

There are some graphic representations of hell but this particular section of the relief is about the righteous being brought to judgment, if I remember correctly. This is also another significance to the relief: Angkor Wat was built in the honor of death unlike other temples. The king—Suryavarman—ordered the construction of the temple to prepare for his death.

Some parts of the relief appear polished. It is only so because visitors have the habit of touching the relief with their hands.

Categories
Photography Travels

[2604] A tree at Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is one of the temple ruins in Siem Reap, Cambodia, which have been reclaimed by nature. Trees grow everywhere, within the compound of the ruins, and on the temple itself.

Some rights reserved. Creative Commons 3.0. Hafiz Noor Shams

Complete restoration of the ruins—meaning removal of the trees—is not possible without damaging the temple. The roots have grown intricately through the temple walls and killing the tree will mean damaging the ruins. From a pest, the trees have formed a symbiotic relationship with the ruins. The trees are now supporting the temple together, for now.

There is a philosophical debate here: preservation versus restoration: leave it be, or “restore” the ruins to its original glory. Here, the preservation camp sort of won and the trees remain.

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Photography Travels

[2586] Angkor Wat from across the pond

Some rights reserved. Creative Commons 3.0. By Attribution. By Hafiz Noor Shams

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History & heritage Photography Travels

[2585] Bayon, Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom was the capital of the Khmer Empire, which Bayon is located at the very center of it. Without any exaggeration, this was the heart of the Khmer Empire. At its peak, it was estimated that around a million persons lived here.

Some rights reserved. Creative Commons 3.0. By Attribution. By Hafiz Noor Shams

It was really an experience. Close to 1,000 years later, there I was, standing at the heart of the Khmer empire, aware of its wider importance to Southeast Asian history, all the way to Srivijaya and the Sailendras. It was at that time that I felt glad that I loved history.

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History & heritage Photography Travels

[2583] Phnom Bakheng

This is a temple called Phnom Bakheng. It is located on top of a hill and so, it does require, possibly, a 15-minute hike from the bottom.

Some rights reserved. Creative Commons 3.0. By Attribution. By Hafiz Noor Shams

Due to its altitude, a visitor has a good view of his surrounding. He can see Angkor Wat as well as an ancient reservoir.

As you can see, they are wooden structures raised to support some part of the temples. It is falling apart.

This particular temple was built in the 9th century when the Khmer empire moved it capital from Roulos, some 20 or 30 miles away from Siem Reap, to here.

And like most temples, Phnom Bakheng was built to replicate Mount Meru. The replication is less impressive than Angkor Wat, but Phnom Bakheng is still amazing. The view from the top is something to die for and Angkor Wat cannot match that.