On mentioning the name ‘’CAMBODIA’’ what would come to anyone’s mind are tales of large scale torture, mass genocide, violence against women and girls, mass massacre, poverty, starvation, hunger etc.
It makes the name sound more like a ‘’death wish’’ or, one can even be tempted to say, it only brings nothing but ‘’evil’’.
But all of these are now in the past, thanks to the impact of agencies and individuals from different quarters, today; the country is a lot more hospitable, interesting and delightful to the eyes. There are several areas that are what we call a ‘’TOURIST’S DELIGHT’’. Among these areas is ‘’Angkor Wat’’, it brings to the mind, images of ‘’paradise’’ on earth , piety, religion and divinity all rolled into one.
THE STORY OF ANGKOR WAT
Angkor Wat represents Cambodia’s early history and its lost civilization. This lost civilization actually left no written records, and only its stones can tell the tale.
This city was once a great Asian city and the capital of the ‘’KHMER EMPIRE’’ which was also recognized as ‘’YASODHAPURA’’, it flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries. Angkor was a megacity supporting at least 0.1% of the global population during 1010–1220. The city houses the magnificent Angkor Wat, one of Cambodia’s popular tourist attractions. The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a “universal monarch” and “god-king”, and lasted until the late 14th century, first falling under Ayutthayan suzerainty in 1351. A Khmer rebellion against Siamese authority resulted in the 1431 sacking of Angkor by Ayutthaya, causing its population to migrate south to Longvek.
The ruins of Angkor are located amid forests and farmland north of the Great Lake (Tonlé Sap) and south of the Kulen Hills, near modern-day Siem Reap city, in Siem Reap Province. It is a great site dedicated to the god Vishnu. It was built by the King Suryavarman the Second (Shield of the Sun) of the Khmer Empire sometime between 1100 and 1150 CE, and its name means ‘The City of the Temples.
THE TEMPLES OF ANGKOR WAT
They are scattered over a large area between the Tonle Sap lake and the Kulen mountains in Cambodia. After the Empire went down, the temples were abandoned and reclaimed by the jungle after so many years. Angkor Wat is the largest, and most famous temple in a city of temples. Together with the Bayon , it contains the most magnificent carvings of all the Angkorian temples. Mysteriously, Angkor Wat is the only temple mountain at Angkor that was designed to be approached from the west rather than the east. The temple is an enormous three level pyramid built on a floating rectangular piece of land surrounded by water. It consists of nine towers, each more than 60 meters high. It was built to represent the ‘home of the gods’, Mount Meru , a mythical sacred mountain in Hindu mythology which is considered to be the residence of the god Brahma and the Devtas. It was referenced to be approximately 1,000,000 km high.
Another unique feature of the temple of Angkor Wat is its containment of the portraits of 1796 women in stone in the centre of the city. Each portrait is unique in some way, and researchers are still puzzled as to the purpose of these women.
The myths say that the temple was constructed mathematically to be in harmony with the universe, and the distances and sizes in Angkor Wat are related to the Indian mythology.
FACTS ABOUT ANGKOR WAT