Underwhelmed by Angkor Wat, Believe It or Not
Sure it's magnificent, beautifully proportioned with many spectacular carvings and bas reliefs, and the scale of the place is impressive. But for pure aesthetics I've been much more moved by the Hoysala and Chola temples of South India, roughly contemporaneous with the major Cambodian sites. Also in India, I found the massive temple complex of Hampi in the south and the ghost city of Fatehpur Sikhri in the north more atmospheric and enchanting. But it could have a lot to do with the fact that Angkor Wat is positively crawling with tourists while the antiquities of Karnataka (Belur, Halebid, Somnathpur and Hampi) are quieter and much more peaceful to wander through. The great monuments of Java, Prambanan (Hindu) and Borobdur (Buddhist), also give the Cambodian sites a run for their money. None of those places, however, have the cachet of having been lost and found or the name recognition of Angkor Wat. At some point I'll digitize my photos of all those places and post them on this blog.
But it's not all about Angkor Wat. The region around Siem Reap hosts a multitude of antiquities of great beauty, some in their way even more impressive than Angkor Wat. I've already posted photos of the Buddhist Bayon temple at Angkor Thom (Angkor Wat was originally Hindu), and photos of other sites will follow.