This week’s Travel Photo of the Week takes us inside the Gallery of One Thousand Buddhas in Angkor Wat in the Kingdom of Cambodia. Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious structure was originally built as a Hindu temple, home to the God King and served as his final resting place. At the time Suryavarman II built Angkor Wat, from 1112 to 1152, Hinduism was the prominent religion in Kampuchea (now called Cambodia) but Buddhism was working its way into religious fashion. This could explain the uniqueness of this statue having eight arms instead of the typical two as some Hindu deities have multiple arms. As Cambodia and the rest of southeast Asia started to abandon Hinduism and adopt Buddhism, this section of the temple complex became a Buddhist temple or wat and housed hundreds of statues of Buddha. In the 1970‘s as the Communist Khmer Rouge regime began to destroy Cambodian society, many of the statues were removed by faithful Buddhists to protect the statues. The vast majority of the remaining statues were either looted by thieves and the remaining were damaged or destroyed by the Khmer Rouge in their “social engineering.” What remains is being augmented by what was hidden and recovered.
The image is a metaphor for Cambodia and it’s people, the statue has survived the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge and has the scars to prove it, but still has the ability to humbly smile and radiate a warm and welcoming air. The sun shines through the ancient temples and as dawn does, it promises a new day and an escape from the darkness.
Additional blogs about Cambodia