Isolated from forest by its moats, Angkor Wat (the Holy City) was, of all Angkor temples, the best placed to escape the invasion of the jungle and hence ruin. It is also the largest and the most impressive in the character of its grand architectural composition, being comparable to the finest of architectural achievements anywhere. By means of its perfectly ordered and balanced plan, by the harmony of its proportions and the purity of its lines, by its complexity and amazing craftsmanship – Angkor Wat to some extent is unmatched by any other wonder of the world.
Angkor Wat was built during the reign of King Suryavarman in early 12 century as a Hinduism monastery and now a celebrated pilgrimage centre for Theravada Buddhism all over Asia. Approximately 50,000 people passionately worked on the construction of Angkor Wat for 35 years and it remains the largest religious building across the globe up to now. Angkor Wat was recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO in December 1992 and huge international effort has been paid to preserve its splendor.
According to the Cambodian legend of Prah Ket, Angkor Wat was an identical palace to “the sky of the Thirty Three”, built by the celestial architect Vishvakarman by order of Indra for a prince whom the god had summoned to be sent back to earth to live for a second time - this would mean, according to the interpretation of Mr Coedes, that Angkor Wat was constructed in order to serve as a residence to a deceased prince who was posthumously deified.
Angkor Wat is a work of power and reason. The temple is raised on a vast surrounding terrace that is graced with sugar palms and overshadowed by mango trees. Preceding the main entrance is a high, cruciform terrace, on two levels - the so-called “Grand Terrace” - where ritual dance was probably performed and which, during processions and displays, served as a tribune for the sovereign. Its overhanging cornice, carried on columns, supports a naga-balustrade.
Angkor Wat is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture and art. As the symbol of Cambodia, Angkor Wat figures on both its national flag and currency notes. And any visit to Cambodia would be incomplete without paying respect to this great wonder of the world.
Angkor Wat features:
Like many other temples in Angkor, Angkor Wat was built in the style of temple mountain, yet unlike others, Angkor Wat has a number of special features:
- The central tower (symbolic representation of the mythical Mount Meru) is surrounded by four smaller towers (as the mythical Mount Meru had five peaks). And each tower is shaped like a lotus bud.
- All other temples are oriented towards the East but Angkor Wat faces the west. The reason behind this is still unrevealed.
- The galleries of bas-reliefs are in counterclockwise, while the normal direction is in the direction of clockwise.
- The extraordinary dimensions of its galleries, walls and moats