Angkor Wat | Cambodia | Tourism | Guide

Angkor Wat

 

Children in front of Angkor Wat.

The temple compound of Angkor Wat at Angkor in Cambodia was constructed in the12th   century for king Suryavarman II. He desired to declare the city and the temple as his kingdom’s capital and state temple, respectively. Erstwhile devoted to the Indian God Vishnu, the temple moved its focus to Buddha later. It is a significant religious centre for the Burmese Buddhists and the world’s largest religious building. The temple reflects the highest orthodox style of Khmer architecture. Subsequently, it represents Cambodia today and appears on its national flag.

Angkor Wat exhibits two fundamental ideas of the Khmer temple architecture – the temple mountain and the galleries.  The temple has been designed to symbolize Mount Meru (home of the Hindu Gods), and the key feature of three galleries in rectangular shape, borrowed from the temples of South India. Several thousands of visitors flock at the temple each year to admire the architectural synchronization and grandeur, including the numerous guardian spirits that adorn the temple walls. Popularly referred as the City Temple, the modern name Angkor Wat is derived from Sanskrit and Thai dialects.

History:

Angkor Wat is situated 5.5 km north of Siem Reap. It lies in the area of noteworthy group of ancient structures in Cambodia. It lies on the southernmost edge of the Angkor’s main area.

The preliminary style and structure of Angkor Wat began during the reign of Suryavarman II in the 12th century. The temple devoted to Indian God Vishnu was the empire’s capital city and state temple. Almost after a century, the temple gradually moved its focus from the Hindu religion to Theravada Buddhist, and subsequently its use also changed, which continues till today.

 

This is one of my pictures of 2006. You can see they are renovating and it is not easy sometimes to go upstairs.

Antonio da Magdalena, a Portuguese monk was the first European visitor to the temple. He visited the temple in1586, and mentioned it as an amazing piece of building architecture in his journal. However, it was not until the mid-19th century, when Henri Mouhot’s travel notes popularized Angkor Wat in the West.

In the 20th century the temple required significant restoration, accumulated vegetation and earth was removed from the site. During the decade of 1970s, the work was hindered by the civil war. Nonetheless, modest damage was done during the war, in addition to burglary and destruction of Angkorian statues.

You have hundreds of temples around Angkor Wat on a large scale, maybe 20km X 20km. This is just one of them, a small one.

The temple remains an influential signature of Cambodia, and contributes significantly to the national pride. Subsequently, Cambodia has formed diplomatic relations with its foreign nations like France and the United States, including its neighbour Thailand. You can see the depiction of Angkor Wat on the Cambodian national flags since its introduction in 1863.

 

Architecture:

 

This picture was taken at “Ta Prohm” in 2006. It is another site near Angkor Wat, one of my favorite with Bayon.

They left the trees on the temples…

Angkor Wat is an exceptional combination of the mountain-temple and concentric galleries. Inspired by the Indian architecture, the temple depicts the home of Gods on Mount Meru. The central pentagon formed by the towers represents the five mountain peaks, while the moat and walls surrounding the temple indicate ocean and mountain ranges, respectively. Angkor Wat’s upper levels were exclusively accessed by the elite, upper class, while the common man was admitted at the lowest echelon of the temple.

If you desire to seek a fine example of orthodox Khmer architecture style, visit the Angkor Wat. The architecture elements of this style include lotus bud shaped towers (redented and ogival); axial galleries that connect the corrals; broaden corridors with half-galleries; and the cross form terraces that emerge along the central axis of Angkor Wat temple.

The archetypal decorative elements include guardian angles (devatas or apsaras), extensive narrative scenes and garlands on the base and bas-reliefs. Being more inert and less refined, the sculpture of Angr Wat is considered traditional. Practically all of its surfaces including roofs, columns and lintels have been carved and embroidered.

Other elements of the design like the wooden doors and ceiling panels, ornate stucco on the towers and embellishment on figurines on the bas-reliefs have been destroyed with the passage of time, yet it never fails to mesmerize the visitors.

 

Some famous faces of Bayon, outstanding place to visit.

Small video that I took on top at Bayon.

To restore the temple, the Archaeological Survey of India began its renovation program between 1986 and 1992. Subsequently, Angkor Wat has seen gigantic boost in tourism. Today, it is the part of the Angkor World Heritage Site, and the Cambodian government receives funding to protect the site.

More pictures of Cambodia and Angkor Wat here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/50651722@N03/collections/72157626705901921/

This post is also available in: French, Thai

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