Angkor Wat – Cambodia
The entire sub continent of South East Asia is a big region which houses several cultures, heritages, and artistic monuments. All of them signify the various empires which existed across the regions and their set of believes. Amongst them is also the seventh wonder of the world, the Angkor Wat of Cambodia.
Location and History
Situated at a distance of 5.5 kilometres from the town of Siem Reap, in the northern half of Cambodia, this well preserved magnificent archaeological site covers an area of 400 sq km and dates back to as old as 12th century BC. The Angkor Wat was built by Khmer dynasty king Suryavarman II who dedicated the temple to Lord Vishnu. One of the many things which enhance the significance of the Angkor Wat is that though it started as a Hindu place of religion, it later, in the 13th century, also got involved in the Buddhist religious practises.
The entire Angkor Wat complex is massive in its layout and is built out of large masses of stone. The plan is made on the basis of two types of architecture of the Khmer temple in which one involves the concept of a temple mountain while other is the plan of galleried temples. It is the combination of the two above plans which has made the Angkor Wat complex so huge and grand consisting of galleries, tall towers, chambers, reservoirs, and innumerable sculptures of the devatas made on the rocks.
The Angkor Wat complex consists of three layers wherein the third layer holds five towers four of which are in the four corners and one being in the middle. The towers seem to be made of tiers in the shape of a cone where the last layer is made of lotuses pointing upwards. All this when viewed from a distance seems to be some ridges which become clear on approaching nearer. When Helen Churchill Candee visited the Angkor Wat in 1920s, she said that the planning of the entire complex was done with a useful purpose rather than being just an architectural plan.
The layout of the Angkor Wat is also related to the Universe where the middle tower of the complex is connected with the mythical mountain Meru which was known to be situated at the centre of the world.
After the death of Suryavarman II Angkor Wat went in to neglect for a couple of next decades and finally in the 20th century a restoration project took the initiative of cleaning the earth and foliage which grew around it.
Being a powerful emblem of Cambodia, Angkor Wat appears on the national flag too. In 2004 and 2005 it received about 561,000 and 677,000 visitors from foreign countries. This resulted in the creation of the Angkor Tourist city which incorporates options of leisure, accommodation, and guided tours which explains the actual Cambodian and Khmer culture to the visitors. There are flights from Indonesia which fly directly to Siem Reap, especially for the Angkor Wat.