Last week, Cleveland Museum in the US returned a Hanuman statue that belonged to Cambodia's famous Angkor Wat. This statue was stolen from the complex during the civil war of the 1960s and 70s. Gaze at some of these stunning stone wonders that grace this UNESCO World Heritage Site
The Angkor Wat travel guide
Don’t miss the sunrise at the main Angkor Wat temple, which is the world’s largest religious monument. It is believed to be a completely realised microcosm of the Hindu universe, that culminates with the five peaks of Mount Meru. Pic/Fiona Fernandez
To reach Angkor Wat
Several Asia-based airlines including Singapore Airlines, Thai, Malayasia Airlines and the low-cost Bangkok Airways fly into Cambodia. The base town for Angkor Wat is Siem Reap. You can either fly directly to Siem Reap or alternatively to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. From here you can board comfortable and safe luxury buses for a 6-7 hour ride to reach Siem Reap.
Detailed sculptures of devatas adorn the panels of the Leper King terrace. Pic/Fiona Fernandez
The reclining Buddha at Bapoun. It was restored with German collaboration.
How to move around
To cover this UNESCO World Heritage Site, hire a tuk-tuk for your entire itinerary, and fix a rate to avoid daily hassles. The very fit can hire bicycles to move around the complex.
Dancing apsaras on a column of the outer bas relief gallery at Bayon. These bas reliefs offer scenes from daily life and Khmer history.
While in Angkor
>> The US dollar ($) is accepted everywhere. Cambodia’s currency (Riel) carries little or no value but keep some amount with you to purchase essentials like bottled water and munchies.
Bantey Srei at the outskirts of the main site offers a stunning display of carvings that include Shiva as well as the vanar sena (in pic). It is home to miniature versions influenced from architecture of several Angkor temples.
>> Angkor Wat complex is a large site so keep at least five days to cover the major temple sites and ruins. Entry passes for different durations can be bought from the main entry point. Plan your itinerary. Check tourismcambodia.com for more details.
The 37 face towers at Bayon make for a hypnotic sight
A reclining Vishnu against the sunlight at Prea Khan. It was once home to a Buddhist university
>> Barring sunset specific points, it’s better to cover sites from sunrise till 10-11 am, post which the sun gets unbearable. This is since several sites were built on mountains. Carry plenty of drinking water.
Despite being in ruin, Bantey Kdei is dotted with carvings of devatas
Apsaras are a common site throughout the main Angkor Wat complex. Nearly 2,000 can be found here.
Information courtesy for captions and for additional reading of the Angkor Wat complex: Ancient Angkor by Micheal Freeman and Claude Jacques.
Archaeological Survey of India helped restore the Ta Prohm site. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider was shot here.
Here are some other photos from the Angkor Wat