Life is strange, actually. Rather than Things You Should know about Angkor Wat, How else could you explain the existence of Hindu and Buddhist temples (number – 1000) as far as Cambodia, that too in an area of 400 square miles? Okay, you got the hint. Good. The location is Angkor Wat. It was in 1992, that this place got the reverence of a World Heritage Site. The promotion stopped the illegal looting of old idols and unregulated/unwanted tourism. In this article on Things you should know about Angkor Wat, you gain valuable information about the history, and reason for building the Vishnu temple.
The place is a tourist delight. Never ever in the world, can you see so many temples in one place. Historians and archaeologists believe there are still many temples in Angkor Wat hidden in the remains.
Every place has a legend and Angkor Wat also does not escape from this aspect. It seems that the construction of the place happened on the order of the Lord of Devas, Indra to be a palace abode for his offspring, Precha Ket Mealea. As per the Chinese traveller, Zhour Daguan, the temple got constructed in one night as per the wishes of a Divine Architect. The myth is a valuable information, you should know about Angkor Wat.
If you flip the pages of history, you find that the temples was built in 12th century by Kind Suryayarman II. This time saw the peak of the Khmer empire. The vast magnificence and art is similar to the Taj Mahal and the Majesty of the Pyramids. Suryavarman was a great devotee of the protector God, Lord Vishnu and he installed a statue in the central tower of Angkor Wat. In the southeast, you can see a drawing related to the churning of milk.
But every empire, when it goes to the height of the power also suffers disintegration. The same happened even with Angkor Wat. 27 years afte the death of Suryavarman, the city was ran over by the traditional enemies of the Khmer known as the Chams. Then, Angkor Wat faded in obscurity.
This place remained the capital of the Khmer Empire from the ninth to fifteenth century. And, the temples got shifted from Hinduism gradually to Buddhism. The place makes it to the largest religious buildings in the globe. Some of the villages near the place have ancestry dating back to the old ages where Khmer retained supreme authority.
It is strange, during the construction process, the site was dedicated to Vishnu, a Hindu God. Maybe, some traveller influenced the native king to build a temple of Vishnu. You may think in a similar way, but we are going to give valuable information to our loyal readers that is seldom found in the internet. This is the main reason why this article on Things you should know about Angkor Wat is so special.
Not many know that the temple also served as a fortification for the military. In 1997, a few bullets flew here and there during the war between two factions, but peace returned to the region. Rarely can you find a temple, first designed as a Hindu, then converted to Buddhism and then to a heritage site? In Dasavathara, Buddha is known as the ninth avatar of Vishnu. Is this the reason, why the temple was shifted from Hinduism to Buddhism? You never knew.
Let us take an example of how can a Vishnu temple be constructed thousands of miles from India?
You stay in Bangalore, but your native place is Patna. Nothing wrong, really. We are all Indians and proud of our country. You came to Bangalore for a job, loved the city and became a Bangalorean. Now, let us link this fact to the Hindu temple in Angkor Wat. This answer is for persons harboring doubts as to how a Hindu temple was built outside India. If you look at the World Geography, and search for Indianism, you can deduce, the whole stretch from Indonesia to Cambodia (SouthEast Asia) does have the spiritual and rustic influences of India. For example, do you know what is the name of Bangkok Airport? It is called as Suvarna Bhoomi. And the airport’s entrance is linked to the churning action of the Nectar of Immortality called as Amrit Manthan, which comes in Lord Vishnu’s Kurma Avatar. Bali in Indonesia boasts of a major Hindu population.
Then why do we ponder the question over and over again?
The reason is, Indian history always gives importance to the National Capital, Delhi. It tells only of the Muslim rulers invasion, the attacks on Hindus and all that negative details. Yes, and in the recent times, Padmavati Rani and the film by Sanjay Leela Bansali. But why can’t they throw light on the Cholas and other South Indian kingdoms, who defeated Northern side kingdoms and went as far as Sri Lanka?
In Cambodia, some Hindu kings may have won the battle over the regional kings. To instill loyalty, similar as Alexander did, the winner kings may have kept a portion of cavalry and troops in the defeated regions city. Now, with cultures intermixed, the origin of Hindu temples might have happened.
In fact, the Chola empire is easily on comparison with the Mughals. And they did the expansion four centuries prior to the Mughals. But the Mughal army defeated many regional kings and established Delhi as a place of superior power. Even the English thought so and shifted from Bengal to Delhi. In a way, this favoritism has changed many true facts of Indian history.
It is only when Indian historians throw light on this topic, will the mysteries of India’s foreign rule of the past and glory come to the text books. In a similar case, Angkor Wat will get the same fame with Taj Mahal and many buildings in various parts of the world will also get acknowledged as Indian heritage sites.
The Temple Structure
A close look at the Khmer temple and you can easily connect it to Hindu spirituality. While, as a visitor, you make the way from the entrance to the center, the path is divided into three staged journeys. It makes the visitor embark on enlightenment mode to salvation.
As per Hindu mythology, spirituality and Gods are always associated with mountains. In fact, the mountains refer to obstacles that come while seeking the path of enlightenment.
The Main temple has a central tower, at 65 metres. It is surrounded by four small towers and enclosed walls. If you are a expert in Hindu mythology, you can easily associate that the central structure connects with Mount Meru and the sea. This was where the Devas and Asuras churned the nectar out of the ocean.
Angkor Wat – Shall We take a trip?
It is a long journey, that you have to look forward. You cannot cover the entire area in just one day. To be honest, it will take at least seven days. So buy a seven day ticket, make friendship with the local tuk-tuk driver. And yes, keep the ticket safe.
In local language, the words “Angkor Wat” translates to City of Temples. In short, the capital of the Khmer Empire. In fact, the area has more than temples such as libraries, moats and other structures.
In Hinduism, many of the temples face east, the direction of Sun rise. But Angkor Wat has west facing structures. However, the change has given you the perfect sunrise. There are many snaps of the sunrise at Angkor Wat and if you are one of the lucky ones, here is a toast to you. Lord Vishnu is also linked to the same direction (West) as is the main entrance.
There was a old wall which provided the perfect enclosure for the temple, city, and royal palace. It had a length of 203 acres. But the wall is nowhere to be seen. Sources confirm that researchers and archaeologists have found the remains of a city known as Mahendraparvata, that is located North of Angkor Wat. Some of the areas’ structures are built with sandstone blocks, the expensive stone of those times.
The Government of Cambodia has recognized that majority of its tourism is related to Angkor Wat. So, they have embedded the ancient monument in their national flag. The monument also appears in some denominations of their national currency.
Angkor Wat has become a center of Buddhism, but still you find the statues of Sakyamuni in temples. In fact, the statues are still given the required respect by Cambodians.
This place remains the dream destination for many travellers in the world. And when the Europeans first discovered, they confused it with Roman and Egyptian civilization. It has become the norm to say, as a traveller, if you have not gone to Angkorwat, your travelling history is incomplete. So, you have taken the cue, and made preparations to go to Angkorwat.
But yes, you have very less time and the preparations are more. So, how do you save time? By smart action and making the best use of technology. If you stay in India, you can easily go for online mobile recharge, DTH recharge and making payment of electricity bills via the app of home maintenance company in your city. So, spend time only on the relevant factors, save money and enjoy the Angkorwat trip.
Have we missed any interesting point? Feel free to drop a review in the Comments section.