Think of great civilizations and which ones come to mind? Ancient Egypt? The Greeks? We surely can’t forget about the Romans. And maybe even the Mongols? Well, add the Khmers to the list. They certainly are one of history’s greatest kingdoms and a major player in Southeast Asia for centuries. The empire’s greatest legacy is Angkor. And just to grasp on the legacy of the empire and its capital, Angkor itself was even larger than today’s New York City.
Sometimes, you just wonder. How did this great world empire start out? What are its origins? Well, location played a major role in the rise of the Khmer Empire and the importance of Angkor as its center. The city is protected from invaders, thanks in large part to the Tonle Sap River/Lake and being surrounded by jungle on all sides. By being close to the lake/river system, the Khmer Empire had good access to water. And not only that, they have a good irrigation system and blessed with ever existing ponds and reservoirs that ensure water is available for irrigation throughout the year.
Another factor leading to the quick rise of the empire over its citizens and subjects is its concept of ‘god-king’. Because of this, they practically ruled with an iron fist. The kings were also surrounded by vastly learned Bhramins, who were educators, priests and scholars. The knowledge Bhramins have are secret and only passed down from father to son. This gave the kings private but vital information on how to run an efficient empire.
But like all great empires, they eventually fell. What were the reasons for the Khmer’s? The introduction of Buddhism played a role. The people no longer saw the kings as god-like, so the rulers’ grip on the empire waned. As the people became less and less devoted to the king, their practices for the empire, such as the great irrigation system, started to suffer leading to lower productivity and economy. The roads they built were also being used against them as rival empires came in and attacked just as the empire was about to fall.
The Khmer Empire reigned for much of Southeast Asia for over 600 years from 802-1431. And during that time, lots of great monuments and structures were built, many of which have withstood the test of time. And you can see these ruins right here with our very own Angkor Discover package. The wonders of Angkor Wat and the tree ridden temple of Ta Phrom are just the small few out of many marvels you will lay eyes upon.
For more into the great country, see our Cambodia tours.
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