Friday, 4 April 2014

Angkor Wat - Beyond the main temple

Ta Prohm, one of the temples just east of the main temple in Angkor Wat, is famous for the iconic image of the tree growing out of the temple.  It turns out that there are more than one tree at the temple and they are all quite spectacular.  This particular species is a Spung tree, a fast growing deciduous tree found throughout Southeast Asia.  At Ta Prohm, it looked like it has taken over the temples and the temple merged with the jungle.  

Restoration projects are ongoing with the Archaeological Survey of India playing a major role.  The Cambodians are dependent on an international retinue to help restore and preserve the ancient temples - groups from India, China, Japan, France, U.S. among them. There is controversy around the management of the temples - local Cambodians are angry that a company headed by a Vietnamese are reaping all the profits from the entrance fees from millions of tourists and simmering resentment against the Vietnamese pervaded in other aspects of economic life in the country - that's the perspective from our guide and there are ample discussions in online forums.  

Statue peekaboo

The tree had become a part of the structure - instead of getting rid of the tree, conservationists had propped it up.

Restoration work, conducted by the Archaeological Survey of India, is being done right in the middle of all the tourist activity

Here's a budding artist honing his craft

Some of the few bas reliefs on top of one of the portals

The temple had merged with the jungle

We only drove by Ta Keo temple above - it was late in the day and the terraces on the five-tier pyramid were intimidating for tired knees.    This would become a recurring theme in the three days that we were in Angkor - temple overload!

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