The magnificent bas-relief of the Churning of the Sea Milk depicted at Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

The focus of this Hindu myth is essentially upon the quest for amrita (the elixir of immortality).

For a 1000 years the demons and gods completed to produce this amrita. Time after time, neither were successful. Finally, after taking the advice given by the god Vishnu, they agreed to cooperate. The demons pulled on one end of the snake, which had been coiled around Mount Manara, and the gods pulled the other. It was hoped that amrita would be produced by spinning the mountain, and churning the ocean milk. This was not to be: the mountain started to sink into the ocean, and Vishnu dived down (in the form of a turtle) to support the mountain. However, 1,000 years later, amrita was finally produced, which spurred the demons and gods to fight over ownership. The elixir was taken and stored by Vishnu, who sided with the gods.

For an example of a much more recent depiction of this scene, check out the painting Vishnu as Kurma at the V&A.

Photos taken by Jason Eppink (edited), Andy Hares, and Terry Feuerborn (edited). Recommended readings: related publications by Dr. Charles Higham.


7 Reasons To Travel To Cambodia Right Now

When the sun rises over Angkor Wat, it’s easy to understand why the citizens of the ancient city of Angkor considered their leaders to be gods. The rising sun reflects off the massive stone temple complex and the thick green jungle that surrounds it, creating awesome hues of purple and blue and an almost otherworldly glow. It’s no wonder that Angkor Wat draws two million visitors every year. But the incredible ancient site isn’t the only site worth visiting in Cambodia. In fact, this South East Asian country is so full of wonder, it should go right to the top of your bucket list.

Pastel sketches, because my initial day plan of eating the rest of my Trader Joe’s cranberry sauce stash only took 5 minutes.

I love the way the banyan trees grow through the temples of Angkor Wat. It feels like they’re connecting heaven and earth.