Angkor Wat was first a Hindu, then consequently a Buddhist, temple complex in Cambodia and the largest religious monument in the world. The temple was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century.
Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple-mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early Dravidian architecture, with key features such as the Jagati.
It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. In the late 13th century, Angkor Wat gradually moved from Hindu to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day.
Angkor Wat is unusual among the Angkor temples in that although it was somewhat neglected after the 16th century it was never completely abandoned, its preservation being due in part to the fact that its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle.
Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp and a luxury surpassing that of a Pharaoh or a Shah Jahan, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal.
Wat is the Khmer name for temple, which was probably added to “Angkor “when it became a Theravada Buddhist monument, most likely in the sixteenth century. After 1432 when the capital moved to Phnom Penh, Angkor Wat was cared for by Buddhist monks.
The steps to Angkor Wat are made to force a halt at beauteous obstruction that the mind may be prepared for the atmosphere of sanctity, she wrote In order to become familiar with the composition of Angkor Wat the visitor should learn to recognize the repetitive elements in the architecture.
Galleries with columns, towers, curved roofs, tympanums, steps and the cross-shaped plan occur again and again. To hear the resonance in the Hall of Echoes walk to the end of the gallery, you should stand in the left-hand corner with your back to the wall, thump your chest and listen carefully.
Those who want to visit the library should leave the door at the end of this gallery. There is a good view of the upper level of Angkor Wat from this library.
When one first walks into the courtyard the multitude of female figures on the walls and in the niches may seem repetitive but as one moves closer and looks carefully one sees that every one of these celestial nymphs is different, the elaborate coiffures, headdresses and jewellery befit, yet never overpower, these ‘ethereal inhabitants of the heavens’ Apsaras appear at Angkor Wat for the first time in twos and threes.
These groups break with the traditional of decoration kin other part of the temple by standing with arms linked in coquettish postures and always in frontal view except for the feet, which appear in profile.
Angkor Wat, the temples were places not for the worship of the kings but rather for the worship of god.