Angkor Wat temple complex has turned Siem Reap into one of the world’s premier travel destinations. It is the largest religious monument in the world. It was originally founded as a Hindu temple for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple. Angkor Wat is a symbol national pride of people of Cambodia and was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1992.
In their glorious days, Khmer kings ruled over a vast land including various domains from Vietnam, China to the Burma Bay of Bengal and left behind ruins of worshiping temples in their long and continuous trails. The most-talked about among them is no doubt the magnificent Angkor Wat, represents one of humankind's most astonishing and enduring architectural achievements. In its unrivaled beauty and state of preservation, the Ankor Wat’s mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal.
The grand scheme of a king
Located about 6 kilometers north of Siem Reap, Angkor Wat was built between 802 and 1220 AD by by King Suryavarman II at the height of the Khmer Empire’s political and military power. In the form of a massive 'temple-mountain', it was dedicated to the Hindu God, Vishnu. Estimated construction time of the temple is 30 years and reportedly took some 50.000 artisans, workers, and slaves to complete. The structures one sees at Angkor today, more than 100 stone temples in all, are the surviving remains of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings - palaces, public buildings, and houses - were built of wood and have long since decayed and disappeared.
That pictures fail short to capture
The complex itself is more than 400 square kilometers in size and contains 5 main towers and a temple consisting of three levels surmounted by a central tower. The walls of the temple are covered inside and out with bas-reliefs and carvings. Symbolically, Angkor Wat is a miniature replica of the universe in stone and represents an earthly model of the cosmic world. The central temple rises from the center of the monument depicting the mythical mountain, Meru, the abode of Hindu Gods. Its five towers correspond to the peaks of Meru. The wall and moat enclosing the temple represent mountains and oceans respectively.
Beautiful, romantic as well as impressive and grandeur at the same time, it must be seen to be understood and appreciated cause no one has ever laid eyes on it, without a a thrill, a pause, a feeling of being caught up onto the heavens…