Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple - mountain and the galleried temple. The design represents Mount Meru which is an abode of the devas according to the Hindu legends. Unlike other Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture.
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument which translates to "City of Temples" or "City Temple." Several new temples and ruins are being discovered nearly every year. Originally built as a Hindu temple, Angkor Wat was transformed into a Buddhist temple during the 14th century. The statues of Buddha were added to enhance the beautiful artwork. Its 65 m tall central tower is surrounded by four small towers, a series of enclosure walls, and a layout that recreates the image of Mount Meru, a holy place in Hindu legends that is said to lie beyond the Himalayas and the home of the gods.
History of Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who came to power in his teenage years by killing his uncle, Dharanindravarman I, while he was riding an elephant. He venerated Lord Vishnu, a deity depicted as a protector, and installed an idol of the Lord in Angkor Wat’s central tower. His devotion can also be seen in one of the most remarkable reliefs at Angkor Wat which shows a chapter in the Hindu story of creation known as the “churning of the sea of milk.” Researchers consider this relief to be one of the finest art pieces at Angkor Wat. Suryavarman’s devotion to Vishnu is also shown in the posthumous name he was given, “Paramavishnuloka” which, means “he who has reached the supreme abode of Vishnu.”
Building Angkor Wat was an enormous undertaking that involved quarrying, careful artistic work and lots of digging. Approximately, 1.5 million cubic meters of slits and sand were moved to create the moat around the temple. The buildings at Angkor Wat are supported with a hard material of laterite which was encased in softer sandstone that was used for carving. Khmer bricks were bonded together almost invisibly with a vegetable compound rather than mortar. Several surfaces of the Angkor temples were once painted. Today, the only small trace of the paint remains on a few temples.
How To Reach
Visitors need to get a travel visa either before they enter or upon arrival at the airport in Siem Reap. If traveling overland, tourists can get a visa on arrival as they cross the border.
Angkor Wat is located six km north of Siem Reap, a popular tourist town in Cambodia. The travelers arrive in Siem Reap by bus, train, or flight and get an early start on the next day. The primary Angkor Wat site is located close to Siem Reap and can be reached by bicycle.