Angkor And Beyond: Banteay Chhmar And The Great Temples of The Khmer Empire By Global Heritage Fund

Gateway at Angkor Thom

Gateway at Angkor Thom

Global Heritage Fund is a not-for-profit organisation, whose mission is to protect, preserve and sustain the most significant and endangered cultural heritage sites in the developing world. Through forming new alliances, establishing partnerships and building a network of conservation and development leaders, Global Heritage Fund is providing projects with new ideas, resources and supporters that will exponentially benefit these sites and build momentum for our global campaign to save vanishing heritage sites in developing regions. Global Heritage Fund is organising a tour to Cambodia in November, the details of which are below:

NOVEMBER 9TH: ARRIVAL IN PHNOM PENH

Arrival in Phnom Penh, then transfer to Raffles Hotel Le Royal, where the group will be joined by John Sanday OBE, Global Heritage Fund’s Regional Director for the Asia and Pacific region, who will be our guide during our visit to Cambodia. Early arrivals can enjoy a tour of the colonial highlights of Phom Penh or relax at the pool. In the afternoon, enjoy a sunset boat cruise along Mekong River, providing a picturesque view of the Royal Palace, the National Museum, and bustling riverfront of Phnom Penh. Accommodation is at Raffles Hotel Le Royal (Landmark Room) in Phnom Penh.

Our guide John Sanday OBE with a Garuda at Preah Khan, Angkor

Our guide John Sanday OBE with a Garuda at Preah Khan, Angkor

NOVEMBER 10TH: PHNOM PENH

Visit to the National Museum: The morning begins with a visit to the National Museum; The museum houses one of the world’s largest collections of Khmer Art, including sculptural, ceramics, bronzes, and ethnographic objects. The Museum’s collection includes over 14,000 items, from prehistoric times to periods before, during, and after the Khmer Empire.

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh

Visit to the Royal Palace: The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh was constructed over a century ago to serve as the residence of the King of Cambodia, his family and foreign dignitaries, and as a venue for the performance of court ceremony and ritual. It serves to this day as the official residence of HM King Norodom Sihamoni. Among the highlights of this working Royal Palace are the Throne Hall and a cast iron pavilion donated by Napoleon III.

Visit to the Silver Pagoda: The Silver Pagoda’s proper name is Wat Preah Keo Morokat, which means “The Temple of the Emerald Buddha,” but has received the common moniker Silver Pagoda after the solid silver floor tiles that adorn the temple building.

Wall mural at the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

Wall mural at the Silver Pagoda in Phnom Penh

Visit to Toul Sleng Genocide Museum: Formerly a high school, the complex known as Toul Sleng, was converted into a prison, interrogation and torture facility by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Known simply as S-21, from 1975-1979 the prison processed and sent to execution over 17,000 people. Left largely in the condition it was found in 1979, the Tuol Sleng compound now serves as a museum, a memorial and a testament to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge regime. It is an important site for understanding the history of modern Cambodia.

Accommodation is at Raffles Hotel Le Royal (Landmark Room) in Phnom Penh.

NOVEMBER 11TH: FLIGHT FROM PHNOM PENH TO SIEM REAP

Transfer to airport for your flight to Siem Reap, where we will be greeted by John Sanday’s old friend and renowned expert on Angkor, Sokhon Yeang, “Mr. Khon”, who will be our official guide during our visit to Angkor. The visit begins in the afternoon with a guided tour of the temple complexes of Ta Som, Neak Pean, and Preah Khan.

Dancer at Preah Khan

Dancer at Preah Khan

Visit to Ta Som: Among the smallest temples of Angkor, Ta Som was built at the end of the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII. The King dedicated the temple to his father, Dharanindravarman II, who was King of the Khmer Empire from 1150 to 1160. The temple consists of a single shrine located on one level and surrounded by an enclosure of laterite walls.

Visit to Neak Pean: One of the most unique and beautiful designs of all Khmer architecture, Neak Pean, or the “Coiled Serpents,” is a small temple, which served as a ritual bathing place for pilgrims. Seemingly rising from a lotus, which is floating on a pond and guarded by giant serpents, its design, layout and decoration is rich in symbolism recalling Buddhist mythology.

Gate at Preah Khan, Angkor

Gate at Preah Khan, Angkor

Visit to Preah Khan: Built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII, Preak Khan, the “Sacred Sword,” was among Angkor’s most active and complex religious sites populated by almost 100,000 officials, dancers, teachers and servants. The temple’s sacred plan, with its successive rectangular galleries around a Buddhist sanctuary orbited by a series of Hindu satellite temples, contains a spectacular array of Khmer sculpture and unique architectural forms.

Accommodation is as Raffles Grand Hotel d’ Angkor (Landmark Room) in Siem Reap.

Face Tower at Banteay Chhmar

Face Tower at Banteay Chhmar

NOVEMBER 12TH: OVERLAND SIEM REAP TO BANTEAY CHHMAR

This morning, we will take an overland transfer to Banteay Chhmar. Lunch will served at the GHF House in Banteay Chhmar – a typical Khmer lunch of local vegetables from the market and fish home cooked by Sun, who has been John Sanday’s cook since 1992.

Banteay Chhmar

Banteay Chhmar

Visit to Banteay Chhmar: This afternoon, we will visit the Banteay Chhmar temple. John Sanday OBE, Regional Director of the Global Heritage Fund Asia and Pacific will lead the tour and will explain the interesting history of Banteay Chhmar and its relationship to Angkor. He will give you an insight into the GHF project at the site, including the moving, repairing and conserving of the massive stone blocks and the principles and philosophy of conserving and presenting such a site the size of Banteay Chhmar. He and his team will demonstrate many of he innovative techniques being used at the site, including the development of a means of recording the structures using a 3D digital scanning program, which is currently under research.

Porch of a traditional guesthouse in Banteay Chhmar

Porch of a traditional guesthouse in Banteay Chhmar

Dinner will be a banquet under the stars, which will be prepared by Sun and her team, following a musical performance with drinks at the temple site. The accommodation available in Banteay Chhmar will be in simple traditional houses involved in the local home stay program. The rooms are spartan, clean, and there are newly installed showers and toilet facilities. The local Community Based Tourism Project (CBT) hosts the program, which is an important aspect of the GHF’s community development work at Banteay Chhmar.

Community-Based Tourism Sign

Community-Based Tourism Sign

NOVEMBER 13TH: BANTEAY CHHMAR TO PREAH VIHEAR

Visit to The Community-Based Tourism Programme and The Silk Weaving Center: The Community-Based Tourism Programme is a vital part of Global Heritage Fund’s community development program at Banteay Chhmar. Tourism is an excellent long-term, sustainable and low-impact way to improve the livelihoods of the community. The GHF, through its support of the CBT, is helping to protect the cultural heritage and environment, as well as increase income for villagers through tourism activities – home stays, tour guides, cooks and other activities. Another important community development project is The Silk Center, which has been training young Cambodian women in the art of silk weaving since 2001. Today, about a hundred people are actively contributing to the creation of Soieries du Mékong’s collections: weavers, seamstresses, embroiderers, and dyers. All creations are entirely handcrafted and reflect the talents of the local Khmer women. This afternoon, we will drive to Saem Village, via Anglong Veng. Dinner will then be served at Boutique Hotel Preah Vihear Boutique Hotel, where we will be staying the night

NOVEMBER 14TH: PRASAT PREAH VIHEAR

Visit to Preah Vihear Temple: an ancient temple built during the reign of Khmer Empire, situated atop a 525 metre (1,722 ft) cliff in the Dângrêk Mountains, in the Preah Vihear province. Affording a spectacular view of the plains across the border in Thailand, Prasat Preah Vihear has the most amazing setting of all the temples built during the six century-long Khmer Empire. As a key edifice of the empire’s spiritual life, it was supported and modified by successive kings and so bears elements of several architectural styles. Preah Vihear is unusual among Khmer temples in being constructed along a long north-south axis, rather than having the conventional rectangular plan with orientation toward the east. The temple gives its name to Cambodia’s Preah Vihear province, in which it is now located, as well as the Khao Phra Wihan National Park which borders it in Thailand’s Sisaket province and through which the temple is most easily accessible. On July 7, 2008, Preah Vihear was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tonight we will be staying in one of the hotels in the town of Tbeng Meancheay.

Khmer carvings at Angkor

Khmer carvings at Angkor

NOVEMBER 15TH: KOH KER AND BENG MEALEA

Visit to Koh Ker: Under the reign of the kings Jayavarman IV and Harshavarman II, Koh Ker was briefly the capital of the Khmer empire (928–944 AD). Jayavarman IV undertook an ambitious building program, which included the construction of about forty temples and an enormous baray (water-tank). Unparalleled is the seven‑tiered pyramid, which at 36 metres (118 ft) high, probably served as the state temple of Jayavarman IV.
Visit to Beng Mealea: The “Lotus Pond” Temple from the early 11th Century built by Suryavarman II was built as a Hindu temple, but there are some carvings depicting Buddhist motifs as well. Its primary material is sandstone and it is largely unrestored, with trees and thick brush thriving amidst its towers and courtyards, and many of its stones lying in great heaps.

Accommodation is at Raffles Grand Hotel d’ Angkor (Landmark Room) in Siem Reap.

Bas Relief of Battle Elephant at Angkor Wat

Bas Relief of Battle Elephant at Angkor Wat

NOVEMBER 16TH: ANGKOR, BANTEAY SREI AND BANTEAY SAMRE

Visit to Angkor Wat: The largest temple in the world, with a volume of stone equaling that of the Cheops pyramid in Egypt, Angkor Wat is unlike all the other Khmer temples in that it faces west, and is inspired by 12th century Hinduism. Its symmetrical towers are stylized on the modern Cambodian flag. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been occupied continuously by Buddhist monks and is well preserved. Intricate bas-reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides. Each tells a story. The most celebrated of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk, which is located on the east wing. In it, the Naga serpent is twisted by demons and gods to spurt out the elixir of life.

Doorway at Banteay Srei

Doorway at Banteay Srei

Visit to Banteay Srei: This afternoon, you drive to Banteay Srei, the citadel of women – a tiny, enchanting temple, which is one of the jewels in this remarkable city. Built of red sandstone in the tenth century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the carved male and female figures in the niches are exquisitely executed in both style and proportion. This is the most Indian of all the temples in Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest. The quality of the stone carvings are exceptional – a factor which has made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and has led to its being widely praised as the “jewel of Khmer art.”

Banteay Samre

Banteay Samre

Visit to Banteay Samre: This is on the road back to Angkor, located east of the East Baray. Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style and one of the most complete temple complexes. It also has a paved moat, a unique feature among Angkor’s temples. We will then go to Abacus Restaurant for our farewell banquet.

Accommodation is at Raffles Grand Hotel d’ Angkor (Landmark Room) in Siem Reap.

Demons of The Causeway at Angkor Thom

Demons of The Causeway at Angkor Thom

NOVEMBER 17TH: SIEM REAP DEPARTURE

Visit to Angkor Thom: King Jayavarman VII established the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom or the “Great City,” in the late twelfth century. It covers an area of 9 km², within which are located several of Angkor’s greatest monuments from earlier eras, as well as those established by Jayavarman and his successors. At the centre of the city is Jayavarman’s state temple, the great Bayon, with the other major sites clustered around the Victory Square immediately to the north.

Visit to the Terrace of the Leper King: Faced with dramatic base-reliefs, the Terrace of the Leper King is so called after the naked statue of the Hindu god Yama, the god of death, a fifteenth century creation which, when discovered at the site, was discolored and covered with moss resembling leprosy.

Carving at Banteay Srei

Carving at Banteay Srei

Visit to the Terrace of the Elephants: With three main platforms, which are believed to have held three wooden pavilions, the Terrace of the Elephants is best known for its near life-size depictions in stone of elephants and their riders. Engaged in a hunt, the elephants are seen to use their trunks to fight against tigers, which furiously claw at them.

Visit to The Bayon: Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the centre of Angkor Thom. The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of massive stone faces on the many towers, which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak.

Transfer to the airport.

The total price per person (without flights) is US $ 3470 / UK £ 2227. For further information, please contact Cathy Giangrande at cgiangrande@globalheritagefund.org or on +44 (0)7789 991 411, or visit www.globalheritagefund.org.