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Tourists lead to temples' destruction

09-02-2010 09:11 BJT

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The great sandstone temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia are crumbling - and some blame the ever-increasing influx of tourists. Not only is there a lot of wear and tear like so many ancient sites, but according to experts, the huge number visitors are using so much water, that the groundwater level has fallen enough to undermine some very old foundations.

Angkor Wat is one of the biggest examples of ancient religious ruins in the world.

Built as a funerary temple by King Suryavarman II in the twelfth century, it was the centerpiece of an urban settlement.

Today the Unesco World Heritage Listed site is a major tourist attraction drawing almost one-and-a-half-million visitors last year.

But is there a risk that mass tourism at Angkor Wat is endangering the temples' structural integrity?

Experts say that thousands of feet are damaging the temple's soft sandstone.

And some are worried that the overuse of ground water in nearby Siem Reap could be damaging the temples' wet sand foundations.

Of those affected, the worst is Bayon temple, famous for the delicate faces carved onto its 54 faces.

Parts of the temple are sinking causing cracks in the stonework.

With aid from the Japanese government, a seven year project to rebuild Bayon is now underway.

About two-million people are expected to visit Angkor Wat in 2011 according to the Cambodian Ministry of Tourism.

That could mean even greater demands on Angkor's already overstretched water resources and possibly more damage to these ancient temples' fragile foundations.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: CNTV.CN

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