Angkor is one of the most important archaeological sites that are found in South East Asia. It is one of the largest archaeological sites in operation in the world. Angkor is present in Northern Province of Cambodia.
Initially Angkor wat was a Hindu temple. Later on it is now a Buddhist temple located in Cambodia. It is the largest monument of a religious kind in the whole world as of today. If you count the total area enclosed within the outer boundary walls of the place, it encompasses a hue area of 820,000 square meters! It is actually so big that when it was built back in the 12th century, one side of it held the royal palace while the other housed literally a major part of the whole city population.
Suryavarman II is the king who built it. It was built during the twelfth century in the capital of the Khmer empire at that time. Eventually it turned out to be a mausoleum later on. It is a classical piece of stylish Khmer architecture. The Angkor encompasses all main architectural edifices along with the hydrological engineering system from the Khmer period. Most of the canals still exist today. All the individual aspects reflect the splendor of the cities that once were. The integrity of the site however, is put under dual pressures:
1. Endogenous: exerted by more than 100,000 inhabitants distributed over 112 historic settlements scattered over the site, who constantly try to expand their dwelling areas;
2. Exogenous: related to the proximity of the town of Siem Reap, the seat of the province and a tourism hub.
Right from its foundation it has remained to be a significant religious center. It is the prime attraction for all those tourists to the country. Angkor wat was based upon the Dravidian architecture.
Angkor wat is located in a temple mountain. It is a representation of the mountmeru. Most of the Khmer temples are oriented towards the west while this temple is oriented towards the east. Stones that are as smooth as the shiny marbles are used in the construction. No mortar is used. Very tight joints could be seen still, you cannot easily find it. Tenon and mortise joints were used in the construction in certain places.
Dovetails and gravity are used in some other places. It is presumed that the blocks might have been put in the appropriate places using a number of elephants. Also Coir ropes, and bamboo scaffolding along with pulleys might have been used. Enormous amounts of sandstone were used to build the monument in such an attractive fashion. Egyptian pyramid named as the khafre is equivalent to this one in the usage of the sandstones. It is estimated as five million tons approximately on the whole.
The sand stones were brought from mountkulen. It is a quarry which is about 25 kms from here. As of today it takes about 300 years to build one new Angkor wat despite the vast improvement in the field of science and technology. The ancient people took just about 40 years or so to get it constructed to perfection. Most of the columns, roofs and the lintels are carved with representations of scenes extracted from the Indian literature. Archaeological society from India has done some restoration works in the recent past years. It is certainly a world heritage site to be preserved by one and all of us. It is a rich cultural heritage to be boasted with pride.
Angkor Wat is considered a stone miniature replica of the universe. It signifies an earthly model of the outer cosmic realm. The chief tower rising from the center of the monument symbolizes the mythical mountain, Meru, located at the center of the universe. The outer wall corresponds to the mountains at the edge of the world.
If you truly want to get to know the place you have to get passes for the Angkor area; you can purchase for any number of days from 1 to 7. Once you are in there you could either rent a guide so that he/she can take you to all the famous spots, or go around all by yourself and be the archeologist whom you always wanted to be. Though it is always better if you get a guide, many of the important places are in ruins and you just might miss the catch when it’s more important.
Now seeing how enormous the monuments in Angkor Wat are, I’d like to suggest you a way in that would suit your view the best. Try entering the enclosure from the western entrance and take a right after the entry tower. This will lead you straight to the five gopuras – monumental towers situated at the start of the main temple building. Moving on if you go straight you will meet the libraries, past them is the water basin which is another impressive view for the eyes. The plainness of the exterior of second level gallery is offset by the interior decoration. Over 15,00 celestial dancers spread over the walls providing visuals of spiritual enchantment. These beautiful dancers promise to be delightful views for all visitors.
When you first walk in the courtyard of Angkor Wat, you may get surprised to see multitude of female figures on the walls and even find them repetitive. However, on a closer look, you will see that each one of the celestial nymphs is different; the elaborate headdresses jewelry is balanced and never overpower.
If you wish to enjoy the countryside view then take a walk all around the outer gallery of the upper level of Angkor. You will be able to enjoy the superb architecture and the perfect balance of every faultless line and its stupendous size.
The best part of the architectural beauty of the temple is where you see tons and tons of Hindu mythology based stories being depicted on the walls in the form of art. From Ramayana to Mahabharata to Yama, Amrita and Vishnu’s story – the place will leave you well educated on Hinduism.
The best part from the point of view of a tourist though would be the sunrise that you feel on your face if you get there by 6am in the morning. Sit a little higher on the edge of the main building facing the rising sun, and the moment you see the sun come up you’ll love Cambodia for making it a part of their national flag. Cambodia is not like the top notch tourism favoring destinations in the world, which means the temple and even the whole of Cambodia is not expensive and if you add to that the historical value of Angkor Wat, I think it surely is a place worth visit.