Cambodia is a country most have never heard of. But in this unknown country, sits the most important archaeological site in the South East Asian region – Angkor.
Angkor was the capital city of the ancient Khmer Empire from the 9th to the 12th century built deeply in the tropical forest of the now modern northern province of Cambodia with an amazing vastness of over 400 square miles in a perfect square shape with perfect measurements. That is 16 times larger than the size of Mecca, the holy place for Muslim pilgrimages!
This impressive yet mysterious capital city of Khmer has more than 1200 ancient temples that still stand in their perfect structure, boasting of a stealth that is greater than the pyramids of Giza. Its perfect layout and measurements display the intelligence of the Khmer era. This huge ancient city depicts a high level of social life with large water reservoirs, basins, canals and huge moats along with systematic communication routes. Such unique and intricate design and building has left many archaeologists astounded with wonderment at such an exceptional civilisation. Although it is more than a thousand years old, the monument still remains as one by building of the most well preserved artefacts despite the weather conditions, poor up-keep and desecrations.
THE LARGEST RELIGIOUS MONUMENT IN THE WORLD
In all its beauty, perhaps none better exhibit the glories of the profound Khmer civilisation than the largest religious monument in the world, the Angkor Wat.
In the words of the French naturalist who discovered Angkor Wat during the 19th century, which he wrote in his diary, it could even rival Solomon’s great Temple in Jerusalem. It was recognised as something grander that is still left unto this day than the temples of Greece or Rome.
A POWERFUL SYMBOL OF CAMBODIA
Due to its glory, beauty and grandeur, Angkor Wat is a powerful symbol of Cambodia that represents more than just a historical fact, but comes more from a transcultural perspective. The outline of Angkor Wat is drawn in the middle of the Cambodian flag emphasising the treasured living heritage in the hearts of Cambodians, showcasing their fierce national pride. To truly experience Cambodia is not to miss the exploration of the Angkor Wat.
ARCHITECTURAL STRUCTURE/THE BEAUTY OF ARCHITECTURE
Angkor Wat which was built in the first half of the 12th century is surrounded with a 190m wide moat forming a giant 1.3km rectangle with lions guarding the 480m causeway that leads to the main entrance to the complex of the temple. Its height stands a hundred feet taller than the Taj Mahal and is visited by 2 million people every year. The size alone indicates the high degree to which the veneration of the Khmer empire towards their gods was expressed, let alone that they also built a temple that fitted the style and pompousness of a king, with a long steep stairway entrance, hundreds of rooms, large pillars with intricate designs and the grandeur entrance to each room. The framework and the beauty of the temple have made it one of the finest monuments in the world.
The beautiful and fascinating carvings on each and every wall gives a sense of awesomeness of its detailed and careful sculpting, speaking much of the skilled masonry and long dedicated hours of work in producing such magnificent and complicated reliefs. The construction techniques alone should woo many architects and confound them with their brilliant artistic building using only bricks and mostly sandstone. The significant architectural structures complete with an outer wall, three storeys and topped with carved symbolic lotus flowers, give a grand ensemble of the master architectural skills.
This temple was originally dedicated to Hinduism and over the centuries, it has morphed to venerate Buddha. Angkor Wat stands out as an iconic Buddhist and Hindu pilgrimage site for many of the devout. There are hundreds of thousands of individual reliefs, each telling a story of their worship and history of what has gone before in the temple. And unto this day, the locals still adhere to the cultural practise in venerating the temple deities in ceremonies and rituals.
THE MYSTERIOUS ANGKOR WAT
However, the mystery of Angkor Wat still remains and debates surrounding a controversial theory likened unto the mystery surrounding the astronomical and mathematical alignments of Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. The sculptures of many unidentified creatures have made many wonder whether it was even built in this world! The precision calculation of Angkor Wat’s landscape measurements has brought many curiosities as to whether the purpose of this building was solely a dedicated religious place of worship or whether it plays more of an astronomicaly mysterious role. No one has found the truth or answers to this great discovery. Even though Angkor Wat has not been officially listed in the 7 Wonders of the World, yet the wonder is not lost in the eyes of the beholder!