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Angkor Wat

Overview, Angkor wat - by Paul&Kelly Gallery - by Robert Angkor wat - by Kent

Angkor Wat is the centerpiece of the Angkor ruins. Created to represent the Universe in stone, its five towers represent the sacred Hindu Mt Meru, its courtyards the continent, and the 200m wide water-filled moats, the ocean.

It is the largest and one of the best preserved monuments in Angkor, and widely believed to be the largest religious structure in the world. Part of what was once a lost city, and not too long ago virtually cut off due to civil war, it is now visited by millions of tourists every year.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

This site was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992. Its design, a blend of geometry and spirituality, is so skillfully precise that a person standing in its southwestern corner would be able to watch the rising sun through the eastern gate during the summer solstice.

Unique purpose

What makes Angkor Wat is that it is oriented towards the West. All the other Angkor temples are east facing. Its builder, King Suryavarman II, dedicated it to the Hindu god, Vishnu, with whom the western direction is associated, and many widely believe it was also his funerary temple.

Walk across the quarter-mile stone paved causeway and note the statue of eight-armed Vishnu on the right. It was carved out of a single block of stone.

Stunning Bas-reliefs

Angkor Wat is well known for the carvings of more than 3,000 asparas, each of them unique and showing off at least 30 different hairstyles and accessories.

Its intricate and stunning bas-reliefs measure some 800m long, with most of them completed in the 12th century. The most famous of these is the Churning of the Ocean of Milk on the east gallery, which narrates in beautifully executed carvings, the myth of Creation. The south gallery shows King Suryavarman II victorious in battle over the Chams whereas further east on the same gallery are depicted the rewards and horrors of heaven and hell.
 

       
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