Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Angkor barays

The Angkor reservoirs:
Angkor is an ancient city that served as the seat of the Khmer empire that flourished here from approximately the ninth century to the fifteenth century A.D. This was te largest pre industrial city in the world and it is still very good visble from satellite images. Nowadays only the temples and the contours of the city remain:

The temples of the Angkor area number over one thousand, ranging in scale from nondescript piles of brick to the magnificent Angkor Wat, said to be the world's largest single religious monument (seen in the picture below):

The remains of this city which are now the most prominent are especially the large barrays/ reservoirs on the west side and on the east side of the city.These barays have functioned as a vast holding tank for water that fed irrigation canals in dry times. Many later studies, however, theorize that the barays had mainly symbolic functions, serving as a vast earthly depiction of the Hindu Sea of Creation. No matter for what reason these barrays were created they are impressive for sure. The largest baray is the West Baray oriented east-west and located just west of the walled city Angkor Thom. It is Rectangular in shape and measuring approximately 8 by 2.1 kilometers:

Its waters were contained by tall earthen dikes. Today a part of this baray is still underwater. In the center of the baray is the West Mebon, a very small Hindu temple built on an artificial island.

The East baray is the second-largest baray in the Angkor region, measuring roughly 7,150 by 1,740 meters. The labor and organization necessary for its construction were staggering: Its dikes contain roughly 8 million cubic meters of fill. The East Baray today contains no water; farmers till crops on its bed. But its outlines remain clearly visible in satellite photographs:

In the middle of this baray is the East Mebon temple, located on elevated ground that was an island in the days when the baray contained water. There is also another large barray which is called the Preah Khan Baray which is 4 kilometers by 1 kilometer. This one also has a temple in the middle, which is called Neak Pean.

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