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Grandeur in the ruins

Cambodia | Wednesday, August 17, 2011 | 10 photos

Ruins are often romanticized by Painters, Photographers, in Films and in Literature. To me, personally, every rock and every structure tells a story, they all contain fragments of my spirit. I felt possessed by the presence of an Ancient Ghost haunting around that place. The winds that blew amidst the cracks of the walls which are on the verge of collapsing, the roots emerging out from the little gaps on the structures, the opened roof of the libraries which used to be an ocean of knowledge. People relate to it in different ways, to some it is Religious, to some it is Historical and to some it is just an Architectural Splendor. What seems to be just a sight of rocks and debris at the present was a once flourishing empire. Being concluded as the largest Pre-Industrial city in the world, The ANGKOR WAT connects to a 1000 sq kms from its temple core. It is the world’s largest single religious monument.

Over a period of 300 years (900-1200 A.D), the empire produced some of the worlds most magnificent Architectural masterpieces in Angkor. Jayavarman II, hailed himself as the Godking in 802 A.D and thus started the Khmer Empire. Derived from the Sanskrit word “Nagara”, Angkor was named the capital of his empire. The main temple is dedicated to lord “Vishnu”. Approximately 72 major temples and several hundred additional minor temples are scattered throughout the landscape and beyond the present Thai border. During 1170 A.D, the then king adopted Buddhism and altered the Hindu temples to display images of “Buddha”.

In 1431 A.D, Thai invaders attacked the empire, which resulted in many people fleeing away from the main city. Another major contributing factor was the religious transition from Hinduism to Theravada Buddhism which created differences between its people…ultimately the whole Angkor was abandoned by the 15th century. Lost in time and going through the onslaught of weathering effects through the centuries. Since then, the temples remained hidden until 1907, when a French Archeologist discovered it. Even though there were efforts to restore the temples by the Frenchmen, the sites were robbed and the rich artifacts and sculptures being smuggled into the Thai border. To add misery to the restoration, the Khmer Rouges contributed in the plundering and destruction of the structures which were once the symbol of religious and royal importance. Since 1980’s, after the end of the Khmer Regime the temples have found their rightful place in the world and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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