“The city that became a temple” – this is the meaning of Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat or Angkor Vat is the temple city of Cambodia. Construction of this temple city began in the early 12th century by King Suryavarman II. Originally, this city and its temples were dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu. After the Chams invaded and ransacked the city in 1177AD, the city was rebuilt by King Jayavarman VII. The new Angkor was however shifted a few kilometers north of the original city. During the 14th century, the city was converted to a Theravada Buddhist site. However, Angkor Wat was abandoned after the 16th century, to be rediscovered and to be popularized by the French explorers in the mid-nineteenth century.
Visitors to Angkor Wat are overwhelmed by the sheer brilliance of the Khmer architecture.
Time to visit Angkor Wat
Although, you could visit Angkor Wat at any season, but the most preferable time to visit this ancient Cambodian city is between January and March. The azure blue sky during the dry season is the aptly suited to view the sunrise and sunset from inside the temples. The bright sunshine provides enough light to explore the temples during the day.
Attractions of Angkor Wat
Most visitors enter Angkor Wat through its western entrance. Unlike most Khmer temples that face east, Angkor Wat faces the west. If you do not have much time to spend in Angkor Wat, you can go straight inside the temple, but if you are an art lover, you should not miss the ornamental Gopuras or entrances situated at four cardinal points of Angkor Wat.
To explore Angkor Wat, you should follow the anti-clockwise route. An imposing statue of the Buddha would greet you a little way right of the main entrance of the temple. The eight-handed statue was originally built to depict Vishnu, the reigning deity of the Hindu ruler. However, later Buddhist rulers of Angkor Wat replaced the original head of the statue with the head of Buddha.
Angkor Wat is renowned for its breathtaking bas-reliefs or stone carvings depicting scenes from the Hindu mythology. The popular carvings depict the Battle of Kurukshetra, army of Suryavarman, judgment of Yama, the god of death and churning of the ocean.
After taking a complete circle of the temple complex in an anti-clockwise direction, you can move into its inner sanctuary. A flight of stairs from the main entrance will take you to the Buddhist art galleries. Here you will come across the “Hall of a Thousand Buddhas”, where there are a large number of magnificent images of Buddha.