Angkor Wat: Interesting Facts

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.

  1. 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.

    Angkor Wat at sunrise

    Angkor Wat at sunrise

  2. Building the Angkor Wat used approximately 300,000 million tonnes of sandstone and laterite.
    Carvings in sandstone

    Carvings in sandstone

    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).

    Sandstone structures

    Sandstone structures

  3. 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.

    Statue of Goddess Laxmi, Lord Vishnu's wife. Sadly, the head was taken and sold for money!

    Statue of Goddess Laxmi, Lord Vishnu’s wife. Sadly, the head was taken and sold for money!

  4. The Angkor Wat temple has five towers, forming a quincunx… an example of superb architectural prowess.
    Cleaning the steps to the highest tower...Mt Meru

    Cleaning the steps to the highest tower…Mt Meru

    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.

  5. 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.

    Vishnu, who now bears the head of a Buddha

    Vishnu, who now bears the head of a Buddha

  6. 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.
  7. 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.                                                                        img_4916.jpg
  8. 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!

    Apsaras with their fancy hairdos, jewelry and dresses

    Apsaras with their fancy hairdos, jewellery and dresses

  9. 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.
  10. Over 50% of the international tourists who visit Cambodia visit the Angkor Wat.
    Tourists at sunrise

    Tourists at sunrise

    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?

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18 Responses

  1. Having visited Angkor Wat previously, independent of a tour guide, these facts would have come in really useful. Of course, the temple in itself is absolutely marvelous and you already get a great sense of how old it is simply by walking around but information like this really does bring it all to life. Thoroughly enjoyable post and hope to read more like this in the future

  2. Those facts are incredible. I would love to have a private guide with me when we visit Angkor Wat so that I can fully comprehend the width and depth of what I see. Its on our list, should happen soon…

  3. If it’s on my bucket list? It’s on TOP of my bucket list, and probably it’s standing there for 20 years now! I’d be probably sad the day I can check it as DONE and leave room for another place, but I’d be super happy too, of course. Anyway, I’m pretty sure it will still stay there for a while. Thanks for the tips, though!

  4. Wow these seem to be a comprehensive list of facts. More like a mini guide through the temples. More recently we’ve heard of quite a few temples in the vicinity which people are saying are off the tourist grid but as beautiful. Have you visiting any ?

  5. It is a dream for me. I have read so much about this place. The more I read, the more fascinated I am. I liked your post as it provides a more refreshing perspective of the temple.

  6. 35 years to complete! Wow. Thanks for the refresher on what makes Angkor Wat so special. The pic of all the tourists at sunrise makes it look like you’d be bumping into people the entire time.

  7. Wow, thanks for sharing this! I love exploring buildings like this, but I rarely stop to think about how they were made. I’m sorry for the 4,000 elephants that died but it’s great that the community came together to build it!

  8. Awesome facts! Angkor Wat looks amazing! Unbelievable details in the carving and architecture. It always amazes me when I think how people built such beautiful structures years ago with barely anything, whereas today we build straight skyscrapers with technology and anything we can get our hands on. Just fascinating!

  9. Nika - nextstopabroad.com

    I might not be the biggest fan of the templates but it is interesting to read about how the temple was build, how much manpower (and elephants!) were needed and how long it took. Yet, I still cannot imagine how such buildings were built in the past without the technology we have today 🙂 pretty impressive! But it must have been quite hard to be the ones actually carrying all these stones and building the temple for years.

  10. Sudipto

    I never knew about these facts of Angkor Vat. The Hindu temples are so beautiful. What would be a good time of the year to go her? Tell us something about the food.

  11. Angkor Wat looks amazing!! Cambodia is clearly not as high up our bucket list as it should be!! I don’t think we’ve even been to a temple, so it was great seeing the architecture, carvings and how long it took to build!

  12. My trip to Angkor Wat is something I will never forget, it really is one of those amazing sights that you have to see to believe. I lost all my photos from the trip though… guess I’ll just have to go back! Your explanation of the history is really great, especially for those who haven’t been and were wondering what it’s all about!

  13. Jure

    If I ever had a bucket list, I would definetly chuck this place inside! The rulers that constructed this place came from India I believe.

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