Angkor Wat – The Majestic Hindu Monument from Khmer Empire
by Blake Johnson Jul 02, 2017
Angkor Wat strikes the world with its mysterious history and legend. Its particular beauty with well-deserved architectural details makes it become one of the most famous tourist hubs to not only Cambodian but travelers all over the world as well.
History and significant values of this famous monument
Angkor Wat was located in Angkor Complex - the last capital of Khmer empire. Sharing the same name with the capital, Angkor Watt brings the meaning as the Capital Temple in Khmer language. It was a vast stone temple in Cambodia and built by King Suryavarman II, who was believed to kill his uncle to become the King, in 12th century. The erection of the Wat was considered to last over 30 years and first to dedicate to god Vishnu instead of Siva as other temple. However, when the time passed, the religion of population also changed. It was gradually transferred from Hinduism to Buddhism and worshipping Buddha in this compound still remains until now.
Although Angkor Wat itself was an intriguing temple which brought both the religious value and stunning architecture in Cambodia, it had time to be neglected along with the collapse of Khmer civilization which we have not known the apparent reason for its disappearance. It was not until the mid-19th century that explorer Henri Mouhot paid a visit to the temple in the jungle and partly made it popular again by publishing his travel notes about this stunning and impressive wat.
With the first purpose of dedicating God, the Wat was erected to stimulate Mount Meru – the home of God in the Cambodian’s ancient stories with like-lotus towers and the stone surrounding wall. Although worshiping an Indian god, Angkor Wat is a great example of Khmer’s architecture.
Nowadays, Angkor Wat plays a major role in introducing the cultural as well as historical value and become a national symbol which has appeared on the Cambodia’s national flag.
The outstanding architecture
The special design and building process attracts many visitors annually coming to enjoy and find out the answer for questions of mysterious things in one of the most famous temples in the world.
Unlike the other temples, the entrance of Angkor Wat oriented to the West that was believed to be the direction of death by ancient people. Some scholars used to suggest that Angkor Wat might be built with the function as a tomb. However, the purpose of the Wat was to show respect to Vishnu, thus, Angkor Wat was served as both a temple and a tomb.Watching the magnificent view of this sandstone structure, many people might wonder how the Khmer people could build it without modern techniques. The researchers have found that Angkor Wat itself was built of sandstone blocks which were took from the mountain of Phnom Kulen and transported along the Siem Reap River. The Khmer workers used a special plant to create a substance which had function as cement to keep the shape of the temple.
With the aim of building “the model of cosmic world”, Angkor Wat is surrounded by a wide moat which is seen as the ocean enclosing the earth. Then, the next layer is the rectangular outer wall decorated with intricate carving and sculptures. There is a gate on each side for visitors to come into the avenue which leads to the centre area of the temple. The central complex includes three storeys, each storey symbolizes “one of universes of Hindu cosmology”. The corners of the second and third storeys are marked by the five like-lotus towers – one in the centre and the others surround it. There are also some stairs outside the temple leading to the topmost towers – the symbol of Mount Meru, the most sacred place in the universe.
Beside the majestic structure, Angkor also leaves a deep impression on the travelers by its stunning and religious carvings and sculptures. Right in the outer wall, visitors can capture the image of Vishnu’s eight arms and many other unusual items. Coming deeper to the main area, well-deserved lintel panel, the bas-reliefs, images of apsara dancers and the beautiful pattern as well as the image daily life of ancient people curved on the wall of the temple are some things that you can feast your eyes on.
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