“There is not, perhaps, on the face of the whole globe, a more imposing mass of ruins than Nagkon-Wat, the wonder and puzzle of European archeologists who venture into Siam. And when we say ruins, the expression is hardly correct; for nowhere are there buildings of such tremendous antiquity to be found in a better state of preservation than Nagkon-Wat, and the ruins of Angkorthom, the great temple.
Hidden far away in the province of Siamrap – eastern Siam – in the midst of a most luxuriant tropical vegetation, surrounded by almost impenetrable forests of palms, cocoa-trees, and betel-nut, “the general appearance of the wonderful temple is beautiful and romantic, as well as impressive and grand”, says Mr. Vincent, a recent traveler.
“We whose good fortune it is to live in the nineteenth century, are accustomed to boast of the perfection and preeminence of our modern civilization; of the grandeur of our attainments in science, art, literature, and what not, as compared with those whom we call ancients; but still we are compelled to admit that they have far excelled our recent endeavors in many things, and notably in the fine arts of painting, architecture, and sculpture. We were but just looking upon a most wonderful example of the two latter, for in style and beauty of architecture, solidity of construction, and magnificent and elaborate carving and sculpture, the Great Nagkon-Wat has no superior, certainly no rival standing at the present day. The first view of the ruins is overwhelming.”
Thus, the opinion of another traveler is added to that of many preceding ones, including archeologists and other competent critics, who have believed that the ruins of the past Egyptian splendor deserve no higher eulogium than Nagkon-Wat.
According to our plan, we will allow more impartial critics than ourselves to describe the place, since, in a work professedly devoted to a vindication of the ancients, the testimony of so enthusiastic an advocate as the present writer may be questioned. We have, nevertheless, seen Nagkon-Wat under exceptionally favorable circumstances, and can, therefore, certify to the general correctedness of Mr. Vincent’s description. He says:
“We entered upon an immense causeway, the stairs of which were flanked with six huge griffins, each carved from a single block of stone, The causeway is…725 feet in length, and is paved with stones each of which measures four feet in length by two in breadth. On either side of it are artificial lakes fed by springs, and each covering about five acres of ground.
The outer wall of Nagkon-Wat (the city of monasteries) is half a mile square, with gateways…which are handsomely carved with figures of gods and dragons. The foundations are ten feet in height. The entire edifice, including the roof, is of stone, but without cement, and so closely fitting are the joints as even now to be scarcely discernable. The shape of the building is oblong, being 796 feet in length, and 588 in width, while the highest central pagoda rises some 250 odd feet above the ground, and four others, at the angles of the court, are each about 150 in height.”
The above underscored lines are suggestive to travelers who have remarked and admired the same wonderful mason-work in the Egyptian remains. If the same workmen did not lay the courses in both countries, we must at least think that the secret of this matchless wall-building was equally known to the architects of every land.”
H. P. Blavatsky