I was a little worried that the Angkor Wat I remembered from my backpacking days would be transformed into a bustling hive of busloads of clueless tourists. I can’t tell you how pleasantly surprised that this was not the case. The “Tomb Raider temple” of Ta Phrom has been rebuilt back to its former glory. Gone are most of the trees that grew through the temple and ultimately destroyed it. Now it is rebuilt. I thought it would be a letdown because the charm of this temple was the trees snaking through the dismantled stone blocks of the temple. But like all the new roads and reconstruction, it was done with taste and will preserve the temple for future generations.
With regards to the arts, King Jayavarman VII was responsible for the construction of numerous temples in the Angkor region and in other provinces. King Jayavarman VII was further championed as the greatest king of Angkor for liberating and unifying the country. His legacy lives on today as many of the structures remaining today within Angkor Wat were built during his reign. At the center of Angkor Thom is the Bayon Temple, famous for its distinct 50 towers, each bearing the large faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshavara on all four sides. These faces are thought to be copied from the actual face of King Jayavarman VII, whose smiles are so gentle that it is often referred to as the Khmer smile. This great king was a devout Buddhist of the Mahayana sect.
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