The Wonder that is Angkor Wat.
This astonishing temple at Angkor in Cambodia was built in the early 12th century for King Suryavarman II. It was dedicated to Vishnu, the Hindu preserver god, but later became a Buddhist temple! The fascinating and lively friezes which decorate the walls of the temple illustrate Hindu cosmology, including the creation story of Vishnu churning the sea of milk. The temple itself represents Mount Meru, the abode of the gods. Some scholars suggest that Angkor Wat was built according to sacred astronomical geography. It is suggested that the complex of temples in the city of Angkor were designed to mirror the stars, thus connecting the earth to the heavens. The use of this complex science, suggests a people who were devoutly religious, brilliant, and marvellously creative. When the Khmers occupied Cambodia, the temple was forgotten about for centuries, buried deep in the undergrowth of the jungle. Europeans did not come to know about the temple until 1860!
This elaborate, awe-inspiring temple was built as a yantra – an instrument to help humans realize the divine.
The peeling paint and crumbling stone add to the wonderful sense of history and magic in this temple.
These female figures are apsaras, or heavenly dancers.
I find it ingenious how fish have been carved on to the surface of the boat in order to give the impression that it is underwater.
This bas-relief depicts Vishnu churning the ocean of milk. The none-too-humble Suryavarman II is said to have associated himself with this great god. See http://www.veloasia.com/library/buckley/churning_milk.html