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Kevin Dyer
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Angkor Wat At Golden Hour
As the largest religious structure ever built and proprietor of some of the world’s most magnificent stone carvings, Angkor Wat is considered by many to be one of the greatest architectural achievements in human history. Divided into the three main levels of the Hindu cosmos, it features an 800 meter long gallery of magnificent bas-reliefs depicting epic stories from Hindu mythology, four stone block swimming pools and five central towers. These towers depict the peaks of Mount Meru, home of the gods and the center of the Hindu universe. At over 180 feet high, they can not only be seen from the town of Siem Reap six kilometers away, they can also be seen all over the country as the main symbol on the Cambodian flag. The Wat is the crowning achievement of the Khmer civilization which, in it’s prime, ruled over most of Southeast Asia. It was commissioned by and built for the god-king, Suryavarman II who was worshipped as an incarnation of the protector god Vishnu. The only temple in the Khmer empire facing West into the setting sun, a symbol of death in Hinduism, it is an accepted belief that it was built as a mausoleum for Suryavarman II. The fact that it took 50,000 artist and laborers nearly 40 years to complete is a testament to the Khmers power, wealth and devotion. To make this photograph showing all five towers, I walked off of the main causeway and joined the cattle that still graze in the fields contained within Angkor’s vast complex. Taken just before sunset, it illustrates why we photographers refer to this time of day as “golden hour”. Taken at any other time of the day, the wat wouldn’t have this beautiful golden color (a reflection of the sunset behind me), but rather it’s natural stone-grey color.
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