Angkor in Cambodia is a complex of religious temples at the capital of the Khmer Empire and is the most important archaeological site in the region. The most famous of these temples is Angkor Wat, a Hindu temple built under the rule of King Suryavarman II in the Temple Mountain architectural style. Angkor Wat, which means Ctiy of Temples in Khmer, was the state temple and capital city, and later became a mausoleum for Suryavarman II.
Angkor Wat differs from many other temples because it is oriented to the west rather than the east. This could have been because the king wanted it to be a burial temple for himself, or it may have been because it was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu, who has associations with the west.
The History of the Angkor Wat is interesting. The temple was designed to represent the universe. The central tower symbolizes the Mount Meru. The temple with entrances on the west and east, constructed in a mountain-like pyramidal shape, crowned by exactly five towers, symbolizing the five peaks of Mount Meru. A statue of Vishnu, called Ta Reach is among the artwork and many decorations around Angkor Wat. The rectangular moat surrounding the temple represents the oceans surrounding Meru. The churning of the ocean of milk bas relief is a prominent one among the various sculpts on the walls of the temple.
Around 5 million tons of sandstone was used in the construction of the temple complex. The sandstone was transported from a quarry located 25 miles away. An interesting fact about the raw material used in construction is that the Khmer bricks were bound together invisibly by applying a vegetable compound instead of the mortar.
After King Suryavarman II’s death in around 1150, construction on the temple ended. It was conquered and later restored by King Jayavarman VII, who built a new temple, Bayon, and moved the new state capital to Angkor Thom.
Nobody knows the reason for the abandonment of the Angkor Wat. Speculations done by archeologists and historians suggest that the complex may have collapsed due to floods.
Angkor Wat is the biggest tourist attraction in the country, and has become an important part of Cambodian history and culture. Tourists love to visit the Angkor Wat during sunrise or sunset as these are picture-perfect timings.
Activities at Angkor Wat
Besides hiking around, you may hire a quad bike for an enticing bike tour of the Angkor Wat, or you may choose to go on an elephant ride. Hot air ballooning is also done over the Angkor Wat region. Every year Half Marathon is held at the Angkor Wat. The 2014 Angkor Wat International Half Marathon is scheduled for December 7, 2014. After a day trip, you may shop for souvenirs at the Angkor Wat night market.
Popular tourist places near the site are Phnom Bakheng, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, and Lake Tonlé Sap.
Angkor Wat Map
Also View: Cambodia Travel Map
Facts about Angkor Wat
- Angkor Wat was constructed in the early 12th century.
- Angkor Wat became a Theravada Buddhist site in around the 13th century.
- Before the death of Suryavarman II, the temple was dedicated to Hindu divinities. After his death, it became a Buddhist site.
- This popular site has been featured in movies such as “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider” and “Lord Jim”, etc.
- The temple complex is even featured on the nation’s flag.
- Angkor Wat was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
- Covering an area of 40,100 ha, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world.
- Read More: Angkor Wat Facts
Where is Angkor Wat?
Angkor Wat lies 5.5 km (3.4 mi) north of the modern town of Siem Reap. Angkor is part of the Siem Reap province, just north of the town of the same name, and east of the former capital, Baphuon. It is at a distance of just 6.5 km from the Siem Reap International Airport.
- Distance of Angkor Wat from Bangkok: Around 406 km (via National Highway 6)
- Distance of Angkor Wat from Phnom Penh: Around 321 km (via NH 6)
Best time to visit Angkor Wat
Winter (November through February) is the perfect time to visit Angkor Wat as the weather is pleasant.
Angkor Wat Hours
The Angkor Wat opens from 5:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Angkor Wat Tickets
Tickets are available for:
- One day: $20
- Three days: $40
- Seven days: $60
The tickets are valid for consecutive days, respectively.
More on Angkor Wat
What is the height of the Angkor Wat?
The Angkor Wat is 213 meters (699 feet) tall, as measured from the ground to the top of the central tower.