What the Taj Mahal is to India, Angkor Wat is to Cambodia . On Thursday, Vice-President Hamid Ansari visited Angkor Wat, the spectacular 12th century temple complex, said to be the largest religious structure in the world.
The sprawling temple complex, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is Cambodia’s biggest crowd-puller — it received about 2 million tourists last year. So strong a symbol is Angkor Wat for Cambodia that a Patna-based private trust’s plans to build a replica in Bihar upset the country with Cambodia lodging a strong protest over it.
Duplication is not the Angkor Wat’s only problem. There are concerns that the growing number of tourists could harm the temple, a UNESCO world site, which in the past was restored with help from various agencies including Archaeological Survey of India.
After Angkor Wat, Ansari and the Indian delegation also made a pit stop at Cambodia’s other stunning temple, the Ta Prohm, where, too, India was involved in its restoration and is set to start a new phase of restoration soon.
Ansari left for neighbouring Lao PDR later, where he addressed the Indian community at a reception in the evening.