Many people focus on the usual places like Paris, Tokyo, New York, and prominent places that everyone talks about. However, have you ever stopped for a second and considered betting on a site that can be (probably) ten times more exciting?
Angkor Wat is one of those we have to mention no matter what. Despite what you might think, it isn’t a city but rather a structure you will love to visit even if you aren’t familiar with Cambodia’s religion or people’s culture.
To begin with, Cambodia is a beautiful place that has nothing to envy from other cities and locations. Instead, we always fall fascinated with all the landscape, sightseeing, and stunning structures and places we can visit.
As people who didn’t love adventure that much, we fell in love at first sight before even visiting the place, and we are confident you will feel the same by getting to know a bit about the Angkor Wat and what awaits you if you’re thinking about a trip to the beautiful structure and region.
Getting to Know Angkor Wat: History & Location
The Angkor Wat is a temple complex that includes Angkor Wat’s central towers and other temples found nearby.
This structure is a UNESCO World Heritage site that was originally built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II as his state temple.
The site has been called “the most spectacular example of classical Khmer architecture,” and it’s easy to see why!
The vast religious complex of Angkor Wat comprises more than a thousand buildings, and it is one of the great cultural wonders of the world.
While covering about 400 acres or 160 hectares, it is the highest point of Khmer architecture and the largest religious structure in the world.
The capital of Angkor was the place from which the dynasty Khmer kings ruled one the most powerful, prosperous, and sophisticated kingdoms in Southeast Asia’s history.
Many construction projects were completed between the end of the 9th century and the beginning of the 13th century.
The most famous of these was Angkor Wat. Suryavarman II built it as a huge funerary temple in which his remains would be deposited. It is believed that construction took place over three decades.
The temple was dedicated to Shiva, Brahma, and Vishnu in the beginning, who were figures of the Hindu religion.
The five central towers of Angkor Wat symbolize the peaks of Mount Meru, which is the dwelling place of the gods in Hindu mythology.
Access to the site is possible via a bridge measuring 617 feet (188 meters). You can reach the temple by going through three galleries separated by a paved walkway.
Bas-relief sculptures in very high quality are used to decorate the temple walls. They depict Hindu gods, ancient Khmer scenes, scenes from the Mahabharata, and scenes of the Ramayana and the Mahabharata.
After the Cham people of modern-day Vietnam sacked Angkor in 1177, King Jayavarman VII decided that the Hindu gods had failed him
and built a new capital nearby named Angkor Thom.
He dedicated it to Buddhism. Angkor Wat was made a Buddhist shrine, and many of the carvings and statues depicting Hindu deities were removed.
Angkor was abandoned in the 15th century. Still, Theravada Buddhist monks maintained Angkor Wat, which remained an important pilgrimage site and continued to attract European visitors. After the French colonial regime in 1863, Angkor Wat was “rediscovered.”
Is It Worth Visiting?
If we go over all the reasons that come perfectly for this beautiful and stunning place, we could be unable to finish today.
However, we want to leave the record straight. It is worth your time no matter what.
Angkor Wat is one of those places you MUST visit before you die, and the reason lies in a once-in-a-lifetime experience and structure that won’t be repeated anytime soon.
If you visit it, you will be transported into a breathtaking world of mystery and able to see pieces of the Hindu universe and how some situations took place centuries ago.
The complex is also perfect for those who enjoy hiking. You can cross the causeway at the west entrance to reach the doorway that leads into the enclosure.
It frames a stunning view, and it will feel like climbing up a mountain. Such varied experiences ensure an enjoyable hike.
On the other hand, bas-reliefs at temples are perhaps the most well-known Khmer art creation.
Carving skills reached their zenith in the Angkor Wat period. The temple’s carved area, which has figures that protrude slightly from the background and measures 600 meters long by 2 meters high, is approximately 600 meters in length.
You will find intricately carved subjects taken from Hindu sources as you walk around the galleries.
These include the epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Take in a culture vastly different from your own as you listen to interesting stories from the Hindu epics.
You will be able to learn more about some of the unique sights from your knowledgeable guide.
The walls are lined with intricate carvings of almost 2,000 sensual celestial maidens known as apsaras.
They appear to be in enchanting poses from the pavilion up to the tops of the high towers. They are dressed in ornate jewelry, exquisite headgear, and only a thin strip of cloth around the waist.
This exposes their milky white breasts. According to Zhou Daguan (Chou Ta Kuan), a Chinese emissary who lived for a year at Angkor, the women wear elegant headgear.
You will be able to see the beauty and grace of East Asian women. Participate in a game that will determine which maiden has a complete set of teeth among all.
Angkor is a world-famous site and a wonder of the universe. It is currently being restored by teams of different countries under the supervision of an International Coordinating Committee. The French and Japanese ambassadors head this committee.
The rich cultural heritage of Angkor has seen the tourism industry in Siem Reap grow rapidly and caters to millions of tourists. It’s worth a try, and you should definitely look forward to more activities.
The tranquil atmosphere created by the warmth of the sunrise reflecting in the ponds creates the silhouette of the central sanctuary and one of our favorite aspects in the temple.
You can either take photos of the beautiful skies or just watch, silently sharing in the breathtaking sunrise moments with your partner. The west entrance is the best place to watch the sunrise, just on the other side of the lotus ponds.
It is also amazing to see the sunset, and you bet you can climb to Phnom Bakheng’s summit, a nearby temple, for spectacular views of Angkor Wat.
A Filming Scenerary – Movies in Angkor Wat
Many would believe that since it is a religious place, movies wouldn’t be filmed in it. However, this is quite wrong.
Since Angkor Wat is stunning in every possible way and has lots of history, several films have been shot in the area, being “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” one of the most popular ones.
Documentaries like “Living in the Age of Airplanes,” “Madventures,” and “Surviving Bokator” can be included among the ones with this temple as a location.
Most of the movies in the location were shot over a decade ago, so if you’re interested in watching any of them, you must have a liking to what some consider old movies already (and some of them indeed are).
Can we mention a few more for your entertainment? For sure!
- “Ombre sur Angkor.”
- “Around the World in 80 Minutes.”
- “Crepuscule (1969).”
- “Asian Treasure.”
5 Interesting Facts About Angkor Wat, Cambodia
- The structure is featured on the Cambodian flag.
- Five million tons of sandstone were used to build the stunning temple.
- According to some inscriptions, the construction took about 35 years, 300,00 workers, and 6,000 elephants.
- The Angkor Wat faces the west, which is unusual in the Hindu religion considering that this direction is often related to death and why some believe it was built for funerals or to be used as a tomb.
- It is one of the ñargest archeological sites operating worldwide.
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