Cambodia Travel Guide

Angkor Wat

23

Nov
2021

Angkor Wat

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The largest religious monument in the world, Angkor Wat literally means the City which is a Temple. Built during the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, this spectacular complex was originally dedicated to the Hindu god, Vishnu. The layout is based on a mandala (sacred design of the Hindu cosmos). A five-towered temple shaped like a lotus bud, representing Mount Meru, the mythical abode of the gods and the center of the  universe, stands in the middle of the complex. The intricate carvings on the walls marking the temple’s perimeter  are outstanding and include a 1,970-ft (600-m) long panel of bas-reliefs, and carvings of apsaras (celestial dancing girls). The outermost walls and the moat surrounding the entire complex symbolize the edge of the world and the cosmic ocean, respectively. Angkor Wat, unusual among Khmer temples, faces the setting sun, a symbol of death.

Central Sanctuary

Towering over the complex, the central sanctuary is a steep climb. Its four entrances feature images of the Buddha, reflecting the Buddhist influence that eventually displaced Hinduism in Cambodia.

Apsaras

The carvings of hundreds of sensual apsaras, each one different from the next, line the walls of the temple. Holding alluring poses, they are shown wearing ornate jewelry and exquisite headgear.

View of Towers

The five towers of Angkor Wat rise through three levels to a grand central shrine. The entire complex is surrounded by thick walls. The view of the temple from the giant pool to the left of the causeway is stunning – particularly at sunrise – with its five towers reflected in the still water.

Gallery of Bas-Reliefs

The five towers of Angkor Wat rise through three levels to a grand central shrine. The entire complex is surrounded by thick walls. The view of the temple from the giant pool to the left of the causeway is stunning – particularly at sunrise – with its five towers reflected in the still water.

The Causeway

The wide pathway leading to the temple’s main entrance on the west side affords a spectacular view of Angkor Wat’s grand exterior. Balustrades carved in the form of nagas (serpents) once lined both sides of the avenue.

 

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