Angkor Wat – An Indian Marvel
Angkor Wat is a UNESCO world heritage site. It proudly symbolizes Cambodia on its national flag. It is one of the prime attractions of tourists in the South East Asia, at a driving distance of just about 5hrs 30 mins from the capital city of Phnom Penh.
But not many are aware of the fact that in a country with official religion as Buddhism,Angkor Wat stands as a marvel of Indian religious belief, yes it is the largest Hindu temple in the world and the oldest preserved historical site built roughly about 900 years ago, spread across an area of 407.1acres
Forget religion, this temple is a masterpiece of architecture and civil engineering. Dedicated to Lord Sri Maha Vishnu, the temple was constructed during the first half of the 12th century during the reign of King Suryavarman II as the state temple and capital.
On the banks of Tonle Sap Lake, Angkor Wat meaning temple city (city of temples),stands as a masterpiece of Khmer architecture.Though the construction pattern resembles the temples in Tamil Nadu that were constructed by the kings of Chola dynasty,the unique feature of Angkor Wat is that the entry and exit is through the West gate.
The temple is built of Sandstone, it is said that 80 lakh tonnes of sandstone was used in the construction of this temple and it took about 30 yrs. for its construction. Though the ancestors of King Suryavarman were devotees of lord Shiva, King dedicated this temple to Lord Vishnu. The boundary walls are about 1024 metres in length and 802 metres in width and height of 4.5 metres.
It is widely accepted that King Suryavarman wanted Angkor Wat as his funerary temple but the king died in a battle before the construction was completed. Later the next ruler, Jayaverman took the responsibility of finishing the construction of the temple.
A Glimpse Trip
As you enter through the West gate, with huge greenery around, a beautiful view of three huge towers of different heights welcomes you. From the entrance you can only view the three towers,as you enter into the secondcentral tower you can see a row of five more towers. This again is a majestic feature of the classical architecture of Khmer.
Another notable point is the layout of the central tower that represents the Meru mountain, which holds a very legendary place in the Hindu mythology.
The best time of the day to be at the entrance of the central tower is the sunrise, which is astounding, and beauty beyond words.
On continuing straight into the central towers you can visit the three levels. Here the places worth visit are the The hall of Echoes, the library and the hall of thousand temples.
On taking a right from the central towers you would be landing into the gallery of bas- relief.
The Gallery of Bas- relief is another wonderful part of this temple. Built between four walls, you can see the Hindu mythology depicted on all the four sides.
On the East side, you can see Bhagavata- Purana, the churning of milk (Sagara Madhanam) depicted beautifully.
On the west, you can see the battle of Kurukshetra, main subject of Mahabharata.
On the South, the scenes from the great epic of Ramayana can be seen.
On the North, a depiction of Lord Yama – hell and heaven.
Below the tower on the south, there is a huge 15 ft. statue of lord Vishnu with eight hands, which is the main statue of this temple city. In a little distance from this statue there is a huge statue of Goddess Lakshmi in a sad state with no head and hands. Though it is a temple there are no rituals that are performed here.
With beautiful architecture on the walls and pillars as we walk through,the entire tour of the temple of Angkor Wat would take about two days.
Being 900 yrs. old, remarkably well preserved, this largest Hindu temple of Shri Maha Vishnu will and shall remain as an epitome of Indian beliefs and culture standing huge and large as a historical marvel in Cambodia.