Ancient Angkor

Once upon a time, or around 1580, while cutting a path through the thick Cambodian jungle, Portuguese missionaries came upon huge towers carved into rocks that were in ruins and covered in roots and vines. Continuing on, they discovered an ancient lost city that was twice as large as Manhattan and that nature was trying to swallow. The missionaries had discovered abandoned Angkor Wat—the 500-acre site is one of the world’s largest religious monuments and the most elaborate of the Angkor’s temples. There are more than 1,000 Temples of Angkor which were built from the 9th to 13th centuries during a time when the Kingdom of Cambodia was one of the most powerful civilizations on the planet.

There were rarely any inscriptions found in later centuries after 1431, when Angkor was seized by the Thai army. During its prime, as many as 750,000 – one million people lived in Angkor, making it one of the greatest vanishing acts of all time. Archaeologists now know that Angkor Wat and many of its surrounding structures were built to appease “devas” and “asuras” which are angelic demi-Gods of the Hindu religion. Thousands upon thousands of these demi-god beings are carved into every single rock temple at the site. Both Tomb Raider and Indiana Jones Temple of Doom were filmed here. Angkor Archaeological Park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992. New research claims to have solved the mystery of how the huge stones of Angkor Wats were moved. “The massive sandstone bricks used to construct the 12th-century temple of Angkor Wat were brought to the site via a network of hundreds of canals. The findings shed light on how the site’s 5 million to 10 million bricks, some weighing up to 3,300 pounds, made it to the temple from quarries at the base of a nearby mountain.” The mystique of Angkor may cry out to the adventurer in us all, but the roots and trees are now being cut back as Angkor is being restored. So many people come here, about 2 – 3 million a year; all that walking and climbing on the (mostly) sandstone monuments caused additional damage to the archaeological sites at Angkor. These photos hearken to ancient Angkor as the Temples of Doom for a Tomb Raider to explore.

“Echoes of Silence; the beauty and mystical ambiance of Ta Prohm. Angkor, Cambodia,” the photographer wrote. This scene may appeal to the Indiana Jones in all of us.

Buddhist monks in front of the reflection pool at Angkor Wat, Cambodia, the city’s most notable edifice. It was built to represent the Hindu “Mountain of the Gods,” and served as a funerary temple. The main temple of Angkor Wat was built between 1113 and 1150 “by King Suryavarman II,” Wikipedia informs. “Suryavarman ascended to the throne after prevailing in a battle with a rival prince. An inscription says that, in the course of combat, Suryavarman leapt onto his rival’s war elephant and killed him, just as the mythical bird-man Garuda slays a serpent.”

Aerial of Angkor Wat. The Earth Observatory explains, “Tucked deep in the Cambodian rainforest, the ancient Angkor Wat temple is considered one of the most valuable architectural sites in Asia. Angkor Wat is the pinnacle of the city of Angkor, capital of the once-powerful Khmer Empire of Southeast Asia. The temple was built by Suryavarman II between 1113 and 1150 AD. Dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, Angkor Wat is a representation of Mount Meru, home of the gods and the center of the Hindu universe. In addition to its unique pyramid temple architecture, Angkor Wat is covered with intricate bas-relief carvings of Hindu epics. At the center of Angkor Wat are five towers that represent the five peaks of Mount Meru. The round towers mark out the corners and the center of the innermost square of the complex. Like the mountain peaks they represent, the towers are pointed on top. The pinnacle of each tower is slightly lighter than the surrounding black stone in this image.”

Iconic tree at Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia. According to Wikitravel, “Built during the time of king Jayavarman VII and is best known as the temple where trees have been left intertwined with the stonework, much as it was uncovered from the jungle. It might be considered in a state of disrepair but there is a strange beauty in the marvelous strangler fig trees which provide a stunning display of the embrace between nature and the human handiwork. This is one of the most popular temples after Angkor Wat and the Bayon because of the beautiful combinations of wood and stone.” You may recognize a few scenes from Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider in this collection of images.

The photographer wrote, “Mythic statues line the causeway over a moat leading to the south gate of Angkor Thom, literally called ‘Great City.’ The images represent a Hindu myth of creation called the Churning of the Sea of Milk. On one side of the causeway, fifty-four guardian deities (called ‘devas’) pull the head of a mythical serpent or ‘naga.’ On the other side, fifty-four images of demon gods (called ‘asuras’) push the tail of the serpent.”

“The Origin of Suffering is Attachment.” Bayon, Cambodia. Destination Truth wrote, “Many carvings depict a direct interaction between the human and spirit world and it is said that malevolent Hindu demons still haunt the vast and overgrown premises to this day. Reports of physical interactions and audible voices around many of the temples, most notably Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon, have erupted over the years. Most recently, Buddhist monks are said to communicate with the spirits during meditation on the premises.”

Chau Say Tevoda; Just east of Angkor Thom, two minor temples line the Victory Way: Thommanon (N) and Chao or Chau Say Tevoda (S), both in the Angkor Wat style. They were built in the 12th century, Thommanon early, Chao Say Tevoda somewhat later, and were planned well before Angkor Thom and the Victory Way which date from the end of the 12th century.

Phimeanakas was “built at the end of the 10th century, during the reign of Rajendravarman (from 941-968), then rebuilt by Suryavarman II in the shape of a three tier pyramid as a Hindu temple. On top of the pyramid there was a tower. According to legend, the king spent the first watch of every night with a woman thought to represent a Nāga in the tower, during that time, not even the queen was permitted to intrude. Only in the second watch the king returned to his palace with the queen. If the naga who was the supreme land owner of Khmer land did not show up for a night, the king’s day would be numbered, if the king did not show up, calamity would strike his land.”

Finely carved reliefs and corridors from the ruins of the Buddhist temple of Angkor Ta Prohm. It dates to the 12th and 13th century and was built by king Jayavarman VII who is considered to be one of the greatest rulers of the ancient Khmer Empire.

Detailed reliefs in the underworld. Sandstone bas relief on the hidden wall at the Leper King Terrace, part of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat.

Banteay Srei (left): “is a 10th century temple of Khmer architecture dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Consecrated in 967 C.E., Banteay Srei was the only major temple at Angkor not built by a monarch; its construction is credited to a courtier named Yajnyavahara, who served as a counselor to King Rajendravarman.”; Banteay Samre (right): “located ca. 500 m east of the Eastern Baray, is one of the temples of Angkor. It was built in the first half of the 12th century, and has been a thoroughly restorated. It is a complete Hindu temple with an Angkor Wat style sanctuary tower.”

Tomb Raider (Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia). Wikipedia states, “Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992. Today, it is one of the most visited complexes in Cambodia’s Angkor region. The conservation and restoration of Ta Prohm is a partnership project.”

Banteay Srey Temple “is a 10th century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.” It was “built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a ‘precious gem’, or the ‘jewel of Khmer art’.”

Angkor: Pre Rup, one of the many temple ruins within the Angkor Archaeological Park. It was built “as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962. It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction. The temple’s name is a comparatively modern one meaning ‘turn the body’. This reflects the common belief among Cambodians that funerals were conducted at the temple, with the ashes of the body being ritually rotated in different directions as the service progressed.”

“The famous empty doorway of Ta Prohm — ” the photographer wrote, “there’s usually a queue of people lining up to be photographed here!” Wikitravel wrote, “While the temple is very popular, most visitors follow a central route and the sides of the complex can be surprisingly quiet. Note that large sections of the temple are unstable rubble and have been cordoned off, as they are in real danger of collapse. As of 2010, authorities have started to restore Ta Prohm. All the plants and shrubs have been cleared from the site and some of trees are also getting removed. A crane has been erected and a large amount of building work is underway to rebuild the temple, much of it seemingly from scratch. Wooden walkways now block some of the previously famous postcard photos.”

2 million people a year must feel the call of adventure to explore these ancient ruins. If the site is being repaired, will these famous roots covering the ruins and enhancing the mystique be removed? Left: “Swallowing the Ruins at Ta Prohm.” Right: “Wrapping Around Time ancient ruins of Angkor Wat.”

Taken in 1965, the weight of time was already crushing Angkor Wat.

The Angkor Thom Terrace of the Elephants was named for the 350m-long (1,148 feet) carvings of elephants on its eastern face.

The photographer for the image on left wrote, “Have you ever been in Angkor Wat? I think it is a must. Fantastic, mysterious, ancient, beautiful, etc…” Right: The cramped corridors of ancient Bayon. “Very little space is left between the inner gallery and the upper terrace.”

Preah Khan temple ruins. The photographer wrote, “A view of the ruins of the temple of Preah Khan at Angkor in Cambodia. Preah Khan was built by the powerful Khmer king Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century who dedicated it to his father, Dharanindravarman II.”

Neak Pean Temple “is an artificial island with a Buddhist temple on a circular island in Preah Khan Baray. The name is derived from the sculptures of snakes (Nāga) running around the base of the temple structure.”

A view of the Terrace of the Leper King in Angkor Thom.

Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century: A temple called Bayonne, Angkor Thom, the Angkor complex. There are 216 massive stone faces adorning the towers of Bayon which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.

Nature reclaiming the temples. Buddha being swallowed by roots at Angkor Archaeological Park.

13th century Bayon Khmer Buddhist temple — at Angkor.

Phnom Bakheng. The photographer wrote, “Just between Angkor Wat and the Bayon lies the temple of Phnom Bakheng, a good walk up the hill and a popular place to witness the sunset as it gives a great view of the surrounding area. The main temple on the top of the hill lies up some pretty steep steps. When climbing down those very steps this view caught my eye and I quickly pulled out my tripod and took a few, dodging passing tourists. I’m also trying to work on some techniques to minimize the HDR psychedelic effect while still maintaining that enhanced reality feeling. Still not there yet, but hopefully good for now.

Prasat Suor Prat is a series of 12 towers in Angkor Thom.

Prasat Preah Palilay. The new research claims “The grid of canals suggests the ancient builders took a shortcut when constructing the Angkor Wat temple, which may explain how the imposing complex was built in a mere 20 years.

Apsaras, detail of lower pediment. Bayon style, late 12th – early 13th century sandstone.

Left: Angkor Thommanon relief. Right: A statue at the Bayon temple.

The 12th Century stone was dedicated to Buddha.

The Srah Srang reservoir was dug in the mid-10th century and has steps that lead down to the water are flanked by two guardian lions. At present Srah Srang measures 700 by 350 m and is still partially flooded.

Sunset@Angkor Wat. “The temple complex is surrounded by a 174-meter- (570-foot-) wide moat, visible in the large image, that represents the oceans at the edge of the universe,” wrote the Earth Observatory. “A stone causeway leads through the Hindu universe to the temple home of the gods from the west, on the left side of the image. The temple complex itself is a series of buildings on rising terraces like the slopes of a mountain.”

Sunset over Angkor Wat.


8 Amazing Pink Lakes of the World

A pink lake is a lake that has a reddish or pink colour due to the presence of algae that produces carotenoids (organic pigments), such as Dunaliella salina - a type of halophile green micro-algae especially found in sea salt fields. Because of pink color, these lakes are becoming increasingly popular among tourists and photographers from around the world.

1. Lake Hillier, Australia

Lake Hillier, is a lake on Middle Island, the largest of the islands and islets that make up the Recherche Archipelago, Western Australia. It is the most prominent lacustrine feature on any island of the archipelago and air passengers often take note of it.

The specialty of this lake is its flamboyant colour, rose pink. The colour is permanent, as it does not alter when the water is taken in a container. The length of the lake is about 600 m (1970 ft). A narrow strip of land composed of sand dunes covered by vegetation separates it from the ocean.

The lake is surrounded by a rime of white salt and a dense woodland of Paperbark and Eucalypt trees with sand dunes separating the lake from the Southern Ocean to the north. Middle Island and lake were discovered in 1812.

2. Lake Retba, Senegal

Lake Retba or Lac Rose lies north of the Cap Vert peninsula of Senegal, north east of Dakar. It is so named for its pink waters, caused by Dunaliella salina algae in the water.

The color is particularly visible during the dry season. The lake is also known for its high salt content, which, like that of the Dead Sea, allows people to float easily.

An aerial shot of salt piled up along the shoreline of Lake Retba

The lake also has a small salt collecting industry. Many salt collectors work 6–7 hours a day in the lake, which has a salt content close to 40%.

In order to protect their skin, they rub their skin with "Beurre de Karité" (shea butter, produced from shea nuts obtained from the Shea nut tree), which is an emollient used to avoid tissue damage.

3. Salina de Torrevieja, Spain

Aerial view of the Salina de Torrevieja from the Mediterranean Sea

Salina de Torrevieja and La Salina de La Mata are salt lakes that surrounds Torrevieja - a seaside city in south-eastern Spain. The microclimate formed by La Salina de Torrevieja and La Salina de La Mata, both the biggest saltlakes in Europe, is declared one of the healthiest of Europe by the WHO - World Health Organisation.

Because of the algae and salt quantity Salina de Torrevieja lake looks pink, which gives it a 'sciencefiction' view. Just like the Dead Sea in Israel, you can float on this lake too. Also, it is very healthy for the skin and lungdiseases.

The salt dug from this lake by the factories at the other end is exported to many countries. This lake attracts a large number of bird species.

4. Hutt Lagoon, Australia

Hutt Lagoon on the left and Indian Ocean on the right side

Hutt Lagoon is a salt lake located near the coast just north of the mouth of the Hutt River, in midwest Western Australia. This body of water is an elongate lake that sits in a dune swale adjacent to the coast.

The town of Gregory is located between the ocean and the lake's southern shores. The road between Northampton and Kalbarri, George Grey Drive, runs along its western edge.

The lake is about 14 km (8.7 mi) in length along its long axis which is oriented in a northwest-southest direction, parallel with the coast. It is around 2 km (1.2 mi) wide.

Hutt Lagoon is a pink lake, a salt lake with a red or pink hue due to the presence of the carotenoid-producing algae Dunaliella salina, a source of ß-carotene, a food-colouring agent and source of vitamin A. The lagoon contains the world's largest microalgae production plant, a 250 ha (1 sq mi) series of artificial ponds used to farm Dunaliella salina.

5. Dusty Rose Lake, Canada

This pink lake located in British Columbia, Canada, is quite unusual, unknown and probably unique. The water of this lake is not salty at all, and not contain algae, but it is still pink. In the picture you can see the pink water that runs into the lake. Water color comes from the unique composition of the rocks in this area (rock flour from the glacier).

6. Pink Lake, Australia

Pink Lake is a salt lake in the Goldfields-Esperance region of Western Australia. It lies about 3 kilometres (2 mi) west of Esperance and is bounded to the East by the South Coast Highway.

The lake is not always pink in colour but the distinctive colour of the water when the lake is pink is a result of the green alga Dunaliella salina and or high concentration of brine shrimp. The lake has been identified by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area (IBA).

7. Masazirgol, Azerbaijan

Masazirgol or Masazir Lake is a salty lake of in Qaradag raion, near Baku, Azerbaijan. The overall area of the lake is 10 sq km (3.9 sq mi). Large volumes of chloride and sulphate are concentrated in ion composition of the water.

Workers shoveling salt into horse drawn carts
A new salt making plant was built in 2010 for production of 2 Azeri brands of salt. The estimated amount of recoverable salt is 1,735 million tons. It is available in liquid (water) and clay forms.

8. Quairading Pink Lake, Australia

Quairading Pink Lake is located 11 km (7 mi) east of Quairading (Western Australia) on the Bruce Rock Road. This road passes through the lake.

The Pink Lake is regarded locally as a natural phenomenon. At certain times of the year, one side of the lake becomes dark pink, while the other side remains light pink color.

Bonus: Field of Pink Lakes, Australia

This unusual landscape is photographed from an airplane in Western Australia. Actually, field of pink lakes is somewhere between Esperance and Caiguna.

There are hundreds of small pink lakes and each of them has different shade of pink. This is caused by the fact that every lake has a different concentration of algae and salt in their water.