History of Angkor-Wat – Angkor Wat Tour Guide

Sunshine over the towers, History of Angkor-Wat,

Angkor Wat Towers in the morning.

History of Angkor-Wat

History of Angkor-Wat: Angkor Wat Tour Guide

Tour Guide Explains History of Angkor Wat

This article will help you understand and explore Angkor Wat. Learn a little about the past history, which prepares you for what you are about to embark upon, this is a huge temple.

Virtual Tour

For those that are unable to come to Angkor Wat, this is a mini virtual tour complete with video and photographs. In the videos you will hear a Cambodian Tour Guide explain some of the past history as I ask him questions. In this article are also comparisons and photographs of other local Angkor Temples to Angkor Wat.

Hire a Tour Guide if You Can

During a visit to the Angkor Temples you may hire a tour guide for a reasonable fee, they are available at the Temple entrances. Tour guides will help explain the history of Angkor Wat, or what ever temple you go to. Guides are also available through some of the guest homes and hotels. There are many Things-to-do-in-Angkor-Wat, and one of them is learning some of the past history of happened here about 1000 years ago. One of my questions I asked our guide was how does anyone know what happened here? Where did the information come from?  Most of these temples were lost for centuries to the jungle before they were discovered in the 1800’s.

Wall Art and Inscriptions

What we know partially came from inscriptions on the stone as well as the art on the walls.  Both the art and inscriptions help us understand the Story of Angkor Wat.  Many of the inscriptions are at other Angkor Temples, but you can see in the videos below they are on the support beam at Angkor Wat. The art also tells us of their past and many of the Angkor Temples have all kinds of art carved into the sandstone, with fine detail.  (Photographs are below the videos for a sample of the art.) Exploring-Angkor-Temples makes it possible to find all kinds of information about how the people lived here in the past.

Tour Guide Video

In the short video below our guide explains that much of the story or history we know about comes from the inscriptions like on this beam. I didn’t understand how many inscriptions he said there were, but after researching I found there are over 1200 inscriptions in various Angkor Temples. Many are in better shape than this one at Angkor Wat.

The next video (below) displays not only the art on the wall, but also the length of the hallway is.

Short Summary of the Video

To summarize a little of what our guide told us: the long wall of art is a story about a dispute between two kings over one Lady.  He also says the story is a long one and the art along the wall tells us this story and the story continues all the way down the this very long hallway. If we wanted to hear the whole story it would take an hour or two to hear. Don’t worry, the video is only about 3 minutes long and is sample of what you would hear if you were visiting in person.

Understanding our Cambodian Tour Guide

Our Cambodian guide seems very knowledgable, but sometimes difficult to understand. Please listen closely and you will experience what it’s like to visit Angkor Wat and learn a little about what happened here between 1113-1150 A.D.  Angkor Wat is the dwelling for the gods, not for humans.  It has been inhabited since mid 1100’s, it was never abandoned. There are monks that still live here.

This is one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Angkor Wat is thought to be one of the final temples of Khmer architecture.

Down this long hallway are the stories of Angkor Wat (photograph below, video above). This hallway can be found just inside of the main building entrance at Angkor Wat on your right.  Notice the ceiling, this is advanced architecturally, ceilings made of stone were not common in much of the world in this time period. Since this is a long hallway, the art on the wall seems like it goes on forever. It’s like reading a story book with one very long page.

 

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Experience the Exploration of Other Angkor Temples

Fun is only part of the experience visiting and exploring Angkor Wat. You will feel excited here at Angkor Wat when you first arrive. Many people report feeling an energy when inside some of the temples. The weather in Cambodia is very hot, and exploring looks easy when you look at the photographs from your computer. There’s a lot of walking involved, some climbing and you have to drink a lot of water because of the energy you use because of the heat and humidity.  This is for the explorer at heart! Some of the Angkor Temples are like in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark“, Ta Phrom Temple is one of these (not pictured) It’s well worth the effort to come see these temples because you can see something here that is unique and you will never forget. It was on my bucket list for a long time. There are other ruins in the world, but this area is a world all its own. I’ve been to the Angkor temples 7 times, and they are all different.

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Banteay Samre is another Angkor Temple in the area of Siem Reap with artifacts such as this sandstone sculpture.

Did Aliens Build Angkor Wat?

The technology they used building these temples is something that took the Cambodian people years to achieve. You may hear theories about UFO’s, but a spaceship from Mars did not come here and build these temples in my opinion. There is a progression of technology here, you can see it when you visit the older temples. There are findings of pottery from a Cambodian civilization at about 500 B.C., during an era that show us that they started very simply. When Exploring-Angkor-Temples, if you play close attention to when these temples were built you will notice the advancement in both the architecture and art.

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This is a closer view from the long hallway in Angkor Wat.

Things-to-do-in-Angkor-Wat includes looking this long hallway of wall of art (below) from the inside of Angkor Wat. These photographs are a closer view from the same hallway as in the hallway photograph just below the video. 

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There is a shift in color on the walls here because of the position concerning the UV light and also when people touch it, it turns a different color. It was polished in the past, but too many fingers have touched these walls and the oil from a hand soaks into the stone.

Water is the Key

Like any civilization today or in ancient times, water has to be available for a civilization to survive. Egypt had the Nile, Macho Picchu had the Amazon, and Angkor Temples built a reservoir water system for irrigation and other needs. The Ancient Native Americans are thought to have perished because they didn’t have enough water. At one time it was thought that the Angkor Temples had over 1 million people during a time when London had 7,000 people.

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West Baray Reservoir, one of four reservoirs for growing rice and for recreation. The little white sand bar you see in the upper middle of the photograph is where a temple is situated.

Building Angkor Wat Today

As good as our technology is today, I doubt we could build anything like this.  This is not just my opinion but from many people who have come here and have experienced the feeling of how huge these building are and how complex these temples were to build. It’s hard to understand what it’s really like from looking at any photographs. When you spend hours exploring many of the Angkor Temples you notice how heavy and how big each of the stone blocks are. I find myself saying how did they do this back then? There was also an advance irrigation system here where they grew rice, but more on that below, and more in another upcoming articles. The art itself is magnificent here! Angkor Wat was built-in a different time for a different reason, as a place of worship.

Comparing Angkor Wat to other Angkor Temples

There are over 100 ancient temples in Cambodia, many of them are in close proximity to Siem Reap. The photographs below are to show the contrast of how all the temples are different, especially to Angkor Wat. If you’re lucky enough to go, try to spend at least three days to explore the temples if you can. Speeding through them is not wise, you want to experience each and appreciate the art and architecture along with the history.

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For the purpose of comparison, Banteay Srei another Angkor Temple is one of the most preserved temples. This is where you find all kinds of art in the sandstone on almost every building.

Banter Srei for Comparison

Notice the different tones or colors of the stones in these photographs; there are some pieces of sandstone that are missing. These stones come from a different quarry then from Angkor Wat. The Cambodian Government has worked to match pieces of stone. They work constantly to fit the stones of the temples back together after years of wars, weather and jungle has ravaged and torn them apart.

I hope the world appreciates what kind of treasure we have here and that its available for us to explore and visit. This place is a marvel from an ancient civilization.  My job is to show you what I can, and to try to relay to you how beautiful these temples are in both architecture and art through my photography and research.

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Banteay Srei is a place of incredible beauty because of the art which is on almost every temple building. Archeologists say this kind of art tells us of normal life from Centuries ago. Not only is this beautiful art, but the colors of the sandstone are beautiful as well. Not every temple looks like this in the Angkor Temple area. Angkor Wat does not have the beauty of Banteay Srei. This temple is farther away from Seim Reap, but still popular with the tourists.

More Angkor Wat Wall Art (below), too many to show all of them, but you can get an idea of the treasures that lay within. My first trip to Angkor Wat was spent photographing as many Aspera’s as I could. When I went back I found out there were many I had missed. Large and small, there are hundreds.

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Notice the hand on the wall in the lower left corner. Also notice the discoloration of the art where the hand is. Discoloration extends all the way across the sandstone at the same level where others have touched it. Oil from a hand will discolor these pieces of art. Do not touch the art! The oil from your hand will be absorbed by the sandstone.

Things-to-do-in-Angkor-Wat

People walking to the entrance, History of Angkor-Wat,

The Walk to Angkor Wat main building entrance.

Angkor Wat consists of many buildings; you can get lost inside of Angkor Wat because it a maze and its huge.

courtyard view, Things to do Angkor Wat,

During the rainy season the grass inside the courtyard is very green.

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Those are stairs, no escalator up to the top. This is a holy building and to go up there, they charge an extra fee, and knees and shoulders must be covered. On a hot day, it’s a long ways up, and almost everyday is hot, yet its a popular place for people to see because the view is tremendous.

People climbing stairs, History of Angkor-Wat,

This is the tallest building at Angkor Wat

Hundreds of Aspera’s

Even today there are the Aspera dancers like years before that are dancing like the ones seen carved in stone at many of the Angor Temples.

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Even though Aspera’s were around hundreds of years ago, doesn’t mean they are gone. Dancers still practice the ancient look and dance.

Hundreds of Divata’s are inside the outside the walls of Angkor Temples, this one is on the outside wall of Angkor Wat, and each and everyone is different from another. 

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These Divatas are on the outside building walls, including the second and third stories.

Aspera’s are inside and outside of Angkor Wat, and each and everyone is different for any of the other ones, like the one below. There are thousands of the Aspera Bas Reliefs.

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This type of Angkor Wat Asperas are all over the inside walls and this is another type the artists of the past produced.

Other things you might want to do, shop for mementos or purchase water and food. The rest rooms are also in this area. Bring alcohol wipes or liquid hand cleaner with you.

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Vendors on the grounds at Angkor Wat with food, water and shopping.

The image below is what is thought Angkor Wat looked like right after it was built. Housing units surround the complex and there is some kind of spiral area that no one seems to know what it was. Below is a link to a story about this image from the Cambodian Daily.

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How to get to Angkor Wat

To get to the Angkor temples foreigners are not allowed ride motorbikes, but bicycles are okay to get to Angkor Wat or the other Angkor Temples. Whatever mode of transportation you decide on, you still have to buy a ticket and wear appropriate clothing. Tuk Tuk’s, mini buses and taxi’s are available from hotels, or hire a Tuk Tuk on the street by the Old Market. They will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Temples.  They will wait for you when you go into the temples, and then they will wait for you to take you to another temple or back to your hotel. You have to arrange this beforehand along with their fee. 

References: Angkor – Marilla, Albanese – wikipedia – 

Conduct Rules & New Hours at Angkor Wat

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© 2015 Travel Food & Health Magazine

Author: TL

Editor & Chief, professional photographer who’s passionate about fine arts, travel and food photography. Traveling in SE Asia currently. Thomas Levine Photography sells photo stock, products designed with his images, and educates others on how to take great photographs. Travel Food & Health is Tom’s way of sharing the world. Geared for both travelers or arm chair travelers.

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