How Angkor Wat Became a Symbol of Cambodia's Rich History and Culture
Angkor Wat is a magnificent temple complex in Cambodia that attracts millions of visitors every year. It is the largest and most well-preserved religious monument in the world, and it represents the peak of Khmer civilization and culture. But what makes Angkor Wat so special and unique?
Why Angkor Wat is so famous
Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century as his personal mausoleum and a tribute to the Hindu gods.
He chose to orient the temple to the west, which was unusual for Khmer temples, and some scholars believe that this was a symbolic gesture of death and rebirth. The temple was later converted to Buddhism by King Jayavarman VII, who added statues and carvings of Buddha and other Buddhist motifs. Angkor Wat is therefore a rare example of a temple that reflects both Hinduism and Buddhism, two major religions in Southeast Asia.
Angkor Wat is famous for its stunning architecture and art.
The temple covers an area of about 400 acres (160 hectares) and consists of five towers that symbolize the five peaks of Mount Meru, the mythical home of the gods in Hindu cosmology. The temple is surrounded by a moat that represents the cosmic ocean and a wall that encloses a series of galleries, courtyards, and libraries.
The temple walls are adorned with exquisite bas-reliefs that depict scenes from Hindu epics such as the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, as well as historical events and everyday life of the Khmer people. The temple also features more than 3000 apsaras (heavenly nymphs), each with a unique expression and hairstyle.
Angkor Wat is a symbol of Cambodia's national identity and pride.
The temple was rediscovered by Western explorers in the 19th century, who marveled at its beauty and mystery. It became a source of inspiration for Cambodian artists, writers, and nationalists, who saw it as a testament to their ancient glory and heritage. In 1953, when Cambodia gained independence from France, Angkor Wat was chosen as the national emblem and featured on the flag, currency, and stamps.
Today, Angkor Wat is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction that generates revenue and jobs for many Cambodians. It is also a place of pilgrimage and worship for Buddhists, who regard it as a sacred site.
Angkor Wat is therefore more than just a temple. It is a masterpiece of human creativity and achievement, a fusion of different religious traditions, and a reflection of Cambodia's past and present. It is no wonder that Angkor Wat is so famous and admired by people from all over the world.
What is the best time of year to visit Angkor Wat?
The dry season, which runs from November to March, is considered the best time to visit Angkor Wat as there is less chance of rain and temperatures are cooler.
How much does it cost to enter Angkor Wat?
As of 2023, the entrance fee for Angkor Wat is $37 for a one-day pass, $62 for a three-day pass, and $72 for a seven-day pass.
Can I hire a guide at Angkor Wat?
Yes, there are many licensed tour guides available for hire at Angkor Wat. They can provide you with valuable information about the history and significance of the temple complex.
Is it possible to climb to the top of the towers in Angkor Wat?
Visitors are no longer allowed to climb to the top of the central tower of Angkor Wat due to safety concerns. However, visitors are still able to climb to the top of some of the other towers for panoramic views of the surrounding area.
Are there any dress codes or cultural norms to be aware of when visiting Angkor Wat?
Yes, visitors to Angkor Wat should dress modestly and cover their shoulders and knees out of respect for the local customs and traditions. Additionally, visitors should remove their hats and shoes before entering any of the temples.