Angkor Wat is the world’s largest religious monument and is considered as a masterpiece of humankind which was built during the reign of Suryavarman II, in the first half of the 12th century. The total area is almost 200 hectares. The temple combines 2 major features of Khmer magnificent architecture: a pyramid and concentric galleries.

“Angkor Wat” means

The term Angkor Wat is the combination of 2 words: “Angkor” is derived from sanskirt word nagara, means city or capital. And “Wat” means temple or pagoda.

Angkor Wat was constructed as a funeral temple for King Suryavarman II and oriented to the West while most temples in Khmer face to the East. Recently, there are a lot of explanations about this, one reason is because the temple is dedicated to Vishnu who is the God of West. The other explanation is that the temple is an association with the direction of death.

Angkor Wat was abandoned as Cambodia’s capital city in the 2nd quarter of 15th century. The region has been continuously inhabited up to modern time. In this period, Angkor Wat is continuously maintained among many new temples and open for public visiting nowadays.

Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat Complex Map
(copyright free image from commons.wikimedia.org)
Angkor Wat Temple
Within the 82 hectares of the outer enclosure, the temple itself stands in the middle on a terrace measuring 332 x 258 m, nearly 9 hectares.

Angkor Wat Temple
Along the causeway towards the temple, there are 2 large libraries on either side.

Angkor Wat Temple
Libraries are often built each side of the path.

Angkor Wat Temple
When you reach the entrance gopura of the temples, there are large galleries of Bas-Relief extending to the left and the right.

Angkor Wat Temple
There are more than 3.000 apsara or apsaras (the beautiful, supernatural female spirits in Hindu and Buddhist religion)carved into the walls.

Upper level- Kingdom of God

At the end of the visiting way, there is the upper level with immensely stairs known as the Kingdom of love and it is open to a limited number of visitors per day and strictly ask for proper dress code. It is impossible for visitors to visit the highest level of Angkor Wat with shorts or top tanks, even with scarf cover your upper hands and shoulders.

Angkor Wat Temple
At the end of the visiting way

Mythical Animals In Khmer Architecture

Angkor Wat Temple


1.LION

Lion appears in bas relief as the temples guards in front of temple entrance staircases.

2. GARUDA

Supreme god of Vishnu’s vehicles, thus it is the one of the most important motifs. Garuda is also the enemy of Naga.

3. BULL

Nandi is the name of bull in front of many temples and on bas reliefs. It is important simple as it is the vehicle of Shiva. In the beginning of Angkor dynasty, Nandi was mostly scultured as lying bull. Later period, the Nandi sculture is “ready to stand up” posture.

Angkor Wat Temple

2. NAGA

Naga is serpent god of water, living underground or in the water. With a cobra hood and many odd number of heads. In Khmer art, Naga appears really often in both Buddhist and Hindu construction and mythology. Naga was also characters in many well-known legends and stories in Cambodia.

4. MAKARA

Makara is a mythical sea animal with the body of reptile and a big jaw and scout that is elongated into a trunk. In Khmer temple architecture, the motif of maraka are usually carved on the walls or lintels.

5. TURTLE

In Khmer art turtle is Kurma. Kurma forms to support mount mandara and to present the penetation through the universe.

3. ELEPHANT

Standing sculptures of elephant are the least important animals representing of Khmer art. The elephants cultures are normally placed at the corners of the steps of temples.

References:

  • Michael Freeman, Claude Jacques, Narisa Chakrabongse (ed.). 2003. Ancient Angkor – Books Guides.
  • Angkor National Museum, Siem Reap, Campodia. (visited 25-4-2019).
  • Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor_Wat (Accessed 2019-5-26).
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