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President Patil mesmerized by Angkor Wat, advocates cultural exchange

By Abdul Nisar

Siem Reap (Cambodia), Sep 17 (ANI): President Pratibha Devisingh Patil expressed wonder and amazement at the beauty of the 12th-century Angkor Wat temples, said to be Cambodia's grandest legacy.

The temples were constructed by Cambodia's once mighty Khmer Empire, and have a great influence of Hinduism on its architecture.

Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia and contains the magnificent remains of different capitals of the Khmer Empire, from the ninth to the 15th century.

"Angkor Wat temple is considered one of the biggest in the world. It was built in 12th century having historical and mythological importance. The temple architecture has been greatly influenced by architecture," President Patil told ANI.

"Ramayana, Mahabharata and Samudramanthan scenes are depicted on the walls of the temple. It is really surprising to see that how so large stones were beautifully carved and put together in ancient times. Today also, the carvings seem to be depicting real life pictures," she said.

"The carvings give a message of peace to the world and shows that Indian culture at that time had influence not only on Cambodia, but on Laos and Vietnam also. Everywhere I see that these places have a strong relationship with India and people here believe in Hindu gods and goddesses," she added. resident Patil also advocated more cultural exchanges between the two countries and asked the younger generation and students of India and Cambodia to visit each other to see their age-old cultural and historical ties.ngkor Wat is a Hindu temple complex made in early 12th century by King Suryavarman II. It was first dedicated to the Hindu god Lord Vishnu, and then to Buddhism.

The modern name Angkor Wat means "City Temple".

The exterior lower level of Angkor Wat displays the most extraordinary bas-reliefs, depicting the stories and characters from the Hindu mythological epics Ramayana and Mahabharata and the historical wars of Suryavarman II.as reliefs include the battle of Kurukshetra on the west wall, the historical march of the army of Suryavarman II against Cham, followed by scenes from heaven and hell on the south wall, and the "classic churning of the Ocean Milk" (Samudra Manthan) on the east wall.

The temple interior has hundreds of five carvings of Apsaras. The central tower of the temple has four images of Buddha, each facing a different cardinal points, highlighting the fact that though Angkor Wat was constructed as a Hindu temple, it has served as a Buddhist temple since Buddhism became Cambodia's dominant religion in the 14th century.

The entire temple complex includes temple of Angkor Wat and, at Angkor Thom, the Bayon Temple with its countless sculptural decorations. UNESCO has set up a wide-ranging programme to safeguard this symbolic site and its surroundings.

India has been involved in the conservation and restoration efforts of Angkor Wat from 1986 to 1993 and is currently working for Ta Prohm Temple, where work is likely to be completed by 2011. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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