Steep stairs leading up to the central sanctuary in Angkor Wat.
Pushy tour groups, persistent souvenir sellers and the searing heat may threaten your sanity, but nothing, absolutely nothing, can take away from the jaw-dropping grandeur of the temples of Angkor. And with a little careful planning, it is possible to escape far from the maddening crowd to find a quiet nook and trace the footsteps of ancient god-kings.
From the ninth to the 12th century, the Khmer Empire covered a sprawling territory encompassing what is modern-day Cambodia, Laos, Southern Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Myanmar. While powerful, competing Khmer kingdoms were in existence right from the first century, it was Jayavarman the Second in 802AD who proclaimed himself a devaraja (god-king) and in one fell swoop united the warring factions. During his 48-year rule the monarch laid the foundation for what would be one of the most prolific architectural periods in the history of the world. Over the next four centuries, successive generations of god-kings sought to outdo one another in building religious monuments, resulting in a temple legacy of epic proportions.
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