The Thinking of Speaking
Issue #9 May / June 2014
Where Are You?
by Sonja Krüger
May / June 2014 | 

This site was the seat of a great empire that flourished for approximately seven centuries. It was the largest pre-industrial city in the world, having an infrastructure that encompassed over 1,000 square kilometres, surpassing even the Mayan city of Tikal in Guatemala. The mighty empire was ruled by a self-declared "universal monarch" and "god-king", but it fell after a rebellion and invasion which caused the city to be destroyed and the population to migrate south.

The city got its name from an ancient word for "city", although now it is mainly a series of ruins among forests and farmland. The remnants of over a thousand temples now cover the region. Some are merely piles of rubble while others still stand or have been restored after a millennium. The greatest is said to be the world's largest single religious monument and together they are protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with two million tourists visiting it annually.

The temples were created at different times by various rulers. The largest temple was created by one of the kings who, according to an ancient inscription, defeated a rival prince in battle by leaping onto his rival's war elephant and slaying the man.

Another symbol of the might of the city were its massive reservoirs. One of these was built by a king who was referred to as "a lion-man"; he tore his enemies with the claws and teeth of his grandeur. The significance of the reservoirs is not clear, with some scholars arguing that they were used to irrigate the fields while others claim they played a larger role as religious and mythological symbols of oceans surrounding the mountain of the gods.

While this city was destroyed by an invasion, it is believed to been in decline for over a century, though no one can agree on the cause of this. When it was abandoned, only the largest shrine remained occupied as a Buddhist shrine, which helped preserve it to the modern day.

Can you name this city and country?

Last month's answer: Mahabalipuram, India

Where Are You?
Writer: Sonja Krüger
Petey: Mystery image

All images are Copyright - CC BY-SA (Creative Commons Share Alike) by their respective owners, except for Petey, which is Public Domain (PD) or unless otherwise noted.


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