With good reason, the Hindu Temple of Angkor Wat (of which Angkor Wat is merely one (although beautiful) component) has earned their position among the world’s most captivating destinations. I was particularly taken by two aspects of Angkor, apart from the immediately apparent ones like its scale, grandeur, and historical significance.

The extraordinary amount of detail shown by the sculptures on the walls of the Angkor temples will astound any tourist who pays a visit to the complex. With the photographs below, I’ve attempted to give you a flavor of what I’m talking about. The first depicts a bas-relief of Angkor Wat, while the second depicts the omnipresent Apsara dancers, each of whom is said to be unique in his or her appearance.

The amount of detail discovered on the temple walls is mind-boggling when viewed only from the standpoint of workmanship. It is also important to remember that these works of art are not limited to the magnificent walls of Angkor Wat and should not be taken for granted.

Throughout the temple complex, you will see amazing pictures etched into even the most unassuming of rocks and ruins, demonstrating the artistry of the sculptors. If you’re willing to search, there are surprises around every corner and crevice if you know where to look.

In Angkor Wat, I found myself sitting on the roof of an ancient palace, observing the panorama below and listening to the strangely rhythmic beat of heavy rain, which I was happily covered by the stone ceiling above. I had no idea what peace was until that moment.

The Angkor Wat Hindu temple can be a wonderfully calm and soothing site, especially if you visit during the low season, as my companion and I discovered. This was not only attributable to the fact that there were fewer people around (an impressive number of fellow travelers turned up to watch the famed Angkor sunrise with us).

Instead, there was something about Angkor that elicited a calm sense of veneration from those who saw it, an attitude I had not before seen in any other large tourist attraction I had visited. While those visiting Angkor Wat appeared obliged to gaze silently, perhaps too overwhelmed by the grandeur and importance of what they were witnessing to speak their way through it.

This generated an ambiance like that of an art museum, where visitors were more likely to scrutinize and ponder on what they were seeing while in a state of relative reverie. Angkor’s mystique is enhanced even more by the fact that, despite the fact that you are surrounded by other tourists, you may feel as if you had one of the world’s most captivating sites all to yourself.

All Hindu temple building is governed by rigid laws, regulations, and templates based on the agamas, with each feature of the temple including cosmological representations and symbolism in one way or another.

Both temple complexes seem to represent a mix of the Nāgara and Drāviḍa styles, with the Drāviḍa style appearing to be the main motif in both locations. In contrast to the Drāviḍa temples, the Nāgara temples do not have prominent flag staffs (dhvaja-stambha) in front of the temples.

Nor do the temples themselves have flag staffs; however, the Prambanan complex does have separate shrines to the three vehicles (vhanas) in front of each of the three main shrines, which is a feature shared by all Drāviḍa temples. Ngara temples are distinguished by the absence of a subsidiary shrine dedicated to Garuda in front of the main sanctuary, as is the case at Angor Wat.

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