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the ancient kingdom of angkor was one of the most powerful states in southeast asia from the 800 s to the 1300s a succession of kings built huge temples that survive today as some of the world's greatest religious monuments the kings at Angkor adopted Hindu and Buddhist beliefs from India and combined these with local beliefs in sacred mountains ancestors and nature spirits temples were filled with images of the gods especially Shiva and Vishnu as well as scenes from Hindu mythology temples were built to resemble the sacred mountain home of the gods and they were surrounded by vast modes suggesting the cosmic ocean these Temple mountains stood at the heart of the capital and were calculated to approximate the plan of the universe as it was understood in the Hindu Buddhist world view the largest temple of all was Angkor Wat a vast complex rising toward five central towers these towers were surrounded by three enclosures along the walls were scenes from the Indian epics in this relief gods and demons churn the primeval ocean by tugging on a giant serpent their actions producing various treasures the last great angkor king was Jaya farm in the seventh he drove out the Chams who invaded from their lands in what is now southern Vietnam an ardent Buddhist he launched a massive building program his great monument was the city of Angkor tone with a by own temple at its heart here we enter the temple by the south gate along an avenue of statues carrying a mythological serpent over the gate is a tower with four faces looking in the cardinal directions these enigmatic faces appear throughout the biome temple their exact meaning is still debated by scholars the King's military exploits are commemorated along the many gallery walls of the temple other scenes offer glimpses into the life of the city at its height a Chinese emissary in the late 1200s observed that these are the monuments that have caused merchants from overseas to speak so often of Cambodia the rich and noble while some temples such as Angkor Wat never fell out of use others have been consumed by the jungle and are in a state of ruin today tourists flocked to see these monuments efforts are being made to reassemble some temples and stabilize others so that future generations may continue to enjoy the wonders of Angkor