It was my kid sister’s birthday and I had to give her a gift. So I went to a book shop browsing for books to give her. It was there that I found this book called ‘World Famous Unsolved Mysteries’. Now I was generally curious about such things and wanted to read this book, but I had enough money for just one book. So what did I do? Well, I bought this book and gifted it to my sister, a great choice for a six year old!

Many of the places mentioned in that book shaped the dreams of my formative years. One of them was Angkor Wat. It talked about the great Khmer civilization which flourished under great kings like Suryavarman and Jayavarman (see! Even after 18 years, I remember those names! ), built great cities and temples and then suddenly melted away into oblivion. No one was supposedly sure what caused the demise of these great people.

Angkor Wat means the City temple, evidently so because it is the largest temple complex in the world. Built by King Suryavarman in the 12th century AD, this majestic structure was based at the former capital of the Khmer empire in the modern day Cambodia. The temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu and slowly got assimilated to the Teravada Buddhist style as the new religion spread in Cambodia. As told by a Portuguese monk-traveler António da Madalena who visited the site in late 15th century it “is of such extraordinary construction that it is not possible to describe it with a pen, particularly since it is like no other building in the world. It has towers and decoration and all the refinements which the human genius can conceive of.” Such is the glory of the monument !

As I grew older, first the stories of Pol Pot and then Discovery documentaries and movies like Tomb Raider (yeah!) and The Killing Fields familiarized me with Cambodia. Even as they progressed towards gradual peace and stability after the elimination of Khmer Rouge, I somehow discounted a chance to see Angkor as it was deemed dangerous. It was only recently when BerT asked if we could make a trip to Angkor Wat did the fire rekindle again! So Cambodia is at peace again and they have some sort of decent infrastructure back. Will I be able to see the a dream come true with my own eyes?

 —- To be updated after I manage to see Angkor —-