Stairway to Heaven
Angkor Wat, near Siem Reap, Cambodia, is the largest religious monument ever constructed. Originally built by Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as a Hindu temple to the god Vishnu, it morphed a Buddhist temple by the 14th century. The five towers of central temple represent the peaks of Mt. Meru, the mythical home of both Hindu and Buddhist gods. A series of galleries, terraces and steep stairways symbolised the effort needed to achieve enlightenment or reach heaven. Three sets of stairs on each side, one in the center and two on the corners, give access to the upper terraces and galleries of the center temple. Often called the “stairway to heaven,” the steps rise at a 70% grade.
When I visited Angkor Wat in 2006, one of the stairways on the south side had a handrail—the others required free climbing. Since that time, all but one of the staircases have been closed and access to the central tower is limited to 100 visitors a day. The south set of steps is now covered by a wooden staircase with handrails. Maybe now I would go to the top. I wasn’t drawn to the steep climb when I was there.
Join Frank’s Tuesday Photo Challenge: Steps