Angkor Wat Is No. 1 Landmark, But Indian Copy Inspires Fear

Angkor Wat in Siem Reap City topped another tourism poll this week, named as the world’s No. 1 landmark by TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice awards on Tuesday. But a massive temple under construction in India is once again stirring fears that Cambodia’s iconic monument will be diminished.

Two days before the TripAdvisor honor was bestowed, Cambodia’s ambassador to India, Hun Han, visited the temple’s construction site in India’s Bihar province and said that his government was worried about the plans to build a near-replica of Angkor Wat that would take the title of world’s largest religious structure.

“This is a sensitive issue for Cambodia and our government has taken the media reports about its probable replication seriously,” Mr. Han told reporters, according to news website India Today.

When a private trust in Bihar announced that it intended to build an exact replica of Angkor Wat in 2012, an angry reaction by the Cambodian government prompted India to force the architects to change their design.

The revised blueprints revealed a temple resembling Angkor Wat, but 120 meters tall and with space inside to accommodate 20,000 visitors.

According to India Today, Mr. Han said the new plans for the structure—on which construction has yet to begin—still bore a 60- to 65-percent resemblance to the Cambodian temple, which he said was “not acceptable.”

“We will take up the matter with the Ministry of External Affairs in India,” he reportedly added.

India’s ambassador to Cambodia, Dinesh Patnaik, said Thursday that his government would look into Cambodia’s concerns.

“We understand that Cambodia is very sensitive to this issue and we would permit nothing that would cause disrespect,” he said.

“We will wait and see what the company building it is doing—but if they are still copying it, we will put a stop to it.”

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