Angkor Wat, popularly known to be the largest religious monument in the world, is a temple complex and considered the heart and soul of Cambodia. Recognized as well for being such a source of fierce national pride to the Land of Smiles.
Angkor Wat covers up to 402 acres of land and is recorded that the highest point of this temple reaches more than 700 feet (213.36 m) in height. Compared to other Angkor monuments, it has never been abandoned to the elements and has been in for all intents and purposes continuous use since it was built in the first half of the 12th century.
Suryavarman II (r 1112–52) — who built the Angkor Wat – the temple that is being said as an earthly representation of Mount Meru, the house of ancient divine beings, and the Mount Olympus of the Hindu faith. The Cambodian god-rulers of old each endeavored to better their ancestors’ scale and symmetry, structures in size, ending in what is believed and recognized to be the world’s largest religious building.
The sandstone blocks from which Angkor Wat was built were quarried from the sacred mountain of Phnom Kulen, more than 50 km away, and glided down the Siem Reap River on rafts. The logistics of such an activity are staggering, consuming, and needing the work of thousands of people. The construction of Angkor Wat included a total of 300,000 workers and 6000 elephants, according to inscriptions. It was not even finished.
The walls of this temple are covered with various carvings of apsaras (nymphs) and other mythological events and figures. This is a great place to visit to see the combination of Hinduism and Buddhism’s beliefs, mostly Buddhism, that are placed in a single temple.
At the present time, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that scientists found difficult to preserve. It is even included in 7 Wonders of the World. Every visitor to Angkor Wat is always struck by its impressive grandeur and, around other people, It’s intriguing decorative flourishes.
Extending around the outside the central temple complex is a 800 m-long arrangement of intricate and amazing bas-reliefs — carvings portraying recorded historical events as well as stories from mythology. Even after its brilliance days had passed, Angkor stayed well known with Buddhist pilgrims who ventured from across Southeast Asia and even beyond. Today the site likewise draws mainstream travelers— having around a million visitors every year.
Originally, it was built as a Hindu temple that is dedicated to the god Vishnu. During the 14th century, it was changed over into a Buddhist temple, and statues of Buddha were added to its generally rich artwork.
At some point later it was transformed into a military fortification. It is 213-foot-tall (65 meters) central tower is encircled by a series of enclosure walls and four smaller towers, a layout that reproduces the image of Mount Meru, known as a legendary place in Hindu mythology that is said to lie past the Himalayas and be the home of the divine beings.
The central tower is considered the heart of the Angkor temple. By using the steep staircase, you can enter the said tower which you’ll see the statue of Vishnu placed at the top. In the written book of researcher Eleanor Mannikka Angkor: Celestial Temples of the Khmer Empire, ” (Abbeville Press, 2002), it is stated that the tower was at once the symbolic center of the country. It is also said as the actual center where secular, and sacred power joined forces.
Special features of Angkor Wat
Emblematically, the west is said to be the direction of death, which once drove countless scholars to infer that Angkor Wat probably existed originally as a tomb. This idea was upheld by the way that the superb bas-reliefs of the temple were being designed to be seen in an anticlockwise way, a practice that has points of reference in ancient Hindu funerary customs. However, Vishnu is also often connected with the west, and it is presently generally acknowledged that Angkor Wat no doubt served both as a temple and as a mausoleum for Suryavarman II.
Every visitor is asked to dress modestly, a show of respect to the temples of Angkor, as it represents a sacred religious site to the Khmer people. It is beyond the realm of imagination to expect to visit the most significant level of Angkor Wat without upper arms covered and shorts to the knees. Local authorities have this what they called visitor code of conduct guideline as well as a video to encourage everyone to wear an appropriate dress, just as reminding visitors not to touch, sit or hop on the ancient structures, to put their focus on restricted areas, and to be respectful of monks.
Angkor Wat is well-known for having such more than 3000 beguiling apsaras (heavenly nymphs) that were carved into the temple’s wall. Every one of them is always viewed as unique, and there are 37 distinct hairstyles for budding stylists to look at. During the 1980s, a huge number of these exquisite apsaras were damaged during endeavors to clean the temples with the usage of chemicals. But, through the team with the German Apsara Conservation Project, it is being said that they were restored once again.
Angkor Wat Today
In 1992, it was recognized and named as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Even though visitors to Angkor Wat numbered in a couple of thousands at that point, the landmark presently invites nearly 500,000 visitors every year— many of whom show up early in the morning than expected in the first part of the day to capture pictures of the sunrise over what is such a very magical, spiritual place.
How to Get There
The nearby town of Siem Reap can be reached through good travel from Phnom Penh and taxis and buses make the trip routinely. If ever you prefer to go by boat, it can likewise make the trip from Phnom Penh in around five or six hours—about a similar travel time as by road. The airport in Siem Reap offers regular service to Phnom Penh as well as regular flights abroad to Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore, and Laos.
How to Visit
The fast-developing town of Siem Reap is the doorway to Angkor and is loaded up with lodging, dining areas, and budget-friendly tour-package options. So if ever you’re planning to visit the country of Cambodia, no need to stress yourself out about the huge expenses.
Tour buses are accessible for those whose itineraries match what’s on offer—regular visits to Angkor’s most major sites. Those keen on exploring more far off constantly the-beaten-track structures may hire or rent vehicles or motorbikes with drivers or tourists guides who are likewise ready to suggest itineraries.
When to Visit
December and January are said to be the peak season for tourists when the climate is much more kind and the rainfall is less likely. Temperatures can take off in spring and usually peak in the days of April before the May/June monsoon season. Travel during the monsoon can be uncomfortable for you. So better to visit when the weather is nice for your whole day tour in the Angkor Wat Temple.