If walking through the corridors of the Angkor Wat is on your bucketlist, you might already know quite a bit about the this grand temple complex. If not, read on for some interesting tit bits on the Angkor Wat, which might inspire you to book your tickets and head to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
- The Angkor Wat was constructed by King Suryavarman II, in the year of 1113 AD. The Angkor Wat is considered as one of the largest Hindu temples in the world.
- Building the Angkor Wat used approximately 300,000 million tonnes of sandstone and laterite.
The structure took about 35 years to complete. It is said that 4000 elephants were used for this mammoth task. Legends have it that one person from each family in the kingdom contributed physical effort by carrying sandstone from a quarry at the Kulen mountain (~55 km away from the construction site).
- The temple was built in honour of the Hindu god Vishnu and was known as Preah Pisnulok (abode of Lord Vishnu) before being known at Angkor Wat.
- The Angkor Wat temple has five towers, forming a quincunx… an example of superb architectural prowess.
The temple complex is surrounded by a moat and an outer wall. Between the outer wall and main central temple, are three long rectangular galleries. The largest temple tower in the centre is representative of Mt. Meru, abode of the Gods. The moat around the temple complex represents the ocean. The causeway leading to the temple complex, over the the moat, represents the ‘rainbow bridge’ connecting the two worlds.
- While the Angkor Wat was originally built as a Hindu temple, it gradually transformed to a Buddhist place of worship by the end of the 12th century.
- Normally, all the religious temples in the Angkor area are built facing the east.The Angkor Wat is only temple that faces the West. Scholars have proposed varied rationales for the same. One of them states that the temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is associated with the West. Another theory suggests that temple has a West orientation as it was used for funerary purposes.
- The bas-reliefs on the walls of the temples depict stories from Hindu mythology, including those of churning of the ocean, Ramayana and Mahabharata. The reliefs are read in the counter clockwise fashion (as against the conventional, another sign that this temple has a relevance to funeral rites.
- The walls of the temples are decorated with apsaras having interesting hairdos, jewellery and dresses. There are about 2000 such beauties adorning the walls of the temples. However, only one of them has a toothy grin…nnone of the other display their teeth!
- Celestial orientation of the sun was kept in mind when the temple was constructed. On days of the equinox, the sun rise is exactly in line with the central tower, which depicts Mt. Meru.
- Over 50% of the international tourists who visit Cambodia visit the Angkor Wat.
The Angkor Wat has been appearing on the Cambodian flag since 1850. Images of the Angkor Wat also appear on many denominations of the Cambodian Riel banknote.
Are you inspired enough to visit this site, which is one of the Wonders of the World?