The Temples of Angkor (Cambodia) A treasure of stone hidden in the jungles
The sculptures of the temple of Angkor Wat are in good condition since, after the decline of the ancient Khmer Empire, it became a Buddhist temple and was continuously maintained, which has helped in the conservation, contrary to the other temples of Angkor. What it has not escaped, as is also case of the great majority of monuments in the east, has been from plunder and pillage. Even the torsos of the relieves have been taken away, as can be seen in the images.
The history of Angkor Wat goes back to the second century after Christ, an epoch in which the reign of Funan, of Indian origin, was established. Indian traders settled in the area and during four centuries there was an age of prosperity and tranquillity. The site being located in the transit area between China and India, Hinduism and Chinese Buddhism influenced the habitants, which are reflected in their temples, bringing to mind those of the North of India and Nepal.
The reign of Funan fell in the year 600 against the reign of Chenla, ending commerce with India and the empire from Indonesia came to power. In the year 800 the reign of Kambuja was established, the head of which was Jayavarman I, who built several towns close to Angkor Wat, he was responsible for many social changes and increased his empire towards the north and the east. During centuries Kambuja lived a period of prosperity.
The King Suryavarnam, in the year 1000 planned the construction of the city of Angkor, a task continued by his successor, Udayadityavarnam II, who restored several temples and under whose reign Angkor became at the same time a sacred city and the centre of a vast irrigation system. The expansion lasted two more centuries, a period in which the temple of Angkor Wat was built. But in the beginning of the year 1200 the empires of Khmer and Angkor began to decay. The Thai empire emerged as the most powerful of the area and the conquests of the Khmer empire by the Thai empire lead to the definite abandoning of the city of Angkor. The forest became the master during centuries of many of these temples.
Since the year 1908 the Conservatory of Angkor is responsible for the maintenance of the temples, depending on the Government of Cambodia. The civil war that lasted 30 years till the seventies, in which the Khmer Rouge massacred many Buddhists as a part of the social reorganisation, did not do much damage to the temples, several temples were moved to museums for their protection.
The temples currently are being restored with the collaboration of archaeologists from all over the world. But the world can today marvel once again at this masterpiece of stone, and among the ruins contemplate the passage of time and so much history and bygone eras.