Prospering from the 9th to the 15th century, this was a remarkable medley of Hinduism and Buddhism. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Angkor Wat is 5.5 km north of the modern town of Siem Reap which is about 300 km from the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh. According to legends, the construction of Angkor Wat, also known as the City of Temples, in Khmer was ordered by Lord Indira for his son Precha Ket Mealea. According to the 13th century Chinese traveller Daguan Zhou, it was believed that the temple was constructed in a single night by a divine architect. Angkor Wat’s rising series of five towers culminates in an impressive central tower that symbolizes the mythical Mount Meru. Thousands of feet of wall space are covered with intricate carving depicting scenes from Hindu mythology.
The temple complex is so huge that it takes at least three days to see the entire complex. Outside the complex compound flocked the usual hordes of tour guides, hawkers selling books on the history of Angkor Wat, picture postcards, t-shirts, handicrafts, soft drinks, snacks and anything a visitor might want to take home as a souvenir. I was not interested in purchasing any knickknacks as a memory of my visit. I sat outside the complex shooing away the occasional hawkers who came to pester me.