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Updated by Joanna James on Apr 23, 2020
Headline for 07 Interesting Angkor Wat facts everyone should know – The most intriguing feature of Cambodia
Joanna James Joanna James
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07 Interesting Angkor Wat facts everyone should know – The most intriguing feature of Cambodia

No one can have a complete Cambodian experience without a visit to Angkor Wat. This exceptional historical creation is a huge draw for tourists, and here are a few interesting facts you ought to know.


The largest religious monument

Angkor Wat happens to be the largest religious monument on the planet. It is a sprawling structure that occupies nearly 400 acres. In 1992, the complex was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site; this has bolstered the international effort to protect the temple complex; it also supports Cambodia's reputation as a popular tourist destination. Within the vicinity are many Angkor Wat hotels, and one of them is FCC Angkor Siem Reap.


City of Temples

Angkor bears the meaning 'capital city' or 'city' in the local language, and Wat has the meaning 'temple grounds'. Angkor Wat wasn't its original name, in the old days, it was called Vrah Vishnuloka or Parama Vishnuloka, which means the scared house of Vishnu. The temple has been ascribed great significance religiously and historically. Its historical and religious importance is why it is featured in the Cambodian national flag; the image of Angkor Wat has been the main feature of the flag since 1850.


Associated with two religions

Originally, the temple was dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva. However, by the 12th century, the temple became the focus of Buddhism in Cambodia. The transition from being a Hindu temple to a Buddhist temple took place gradually. The temple is still in use as a house of religion.


A symbolic representation

Angkor Wat was the symbolic representation of Mount Meru. According to Hindu mythology, Mount Meru is the holy mountain of five peaks that stands in the centre of the universe. According to religious beliefs, the top of Mount Meru is home to Vishnu, Brahma, Shiva and Hindu demi-gods.


An unusual feature

Where Cambodian temples are concerned, Angkor Wat is quite unusual in its design. It faces the west, the west, according to Hindu belief, signifies death. This way, Angkor Wat defies other Cambodian temples, which are usually oriented to the east. Many historians and archaeologists believe that the temple was intended as a funerary temple. Despite religious connotations, because the temple is facing the west, in the evening, it shines with the blazing rays of the setting sun, this is one spectacle that makes this religious site a tourist attraction.


A massive amount of sandstones was used

As per historical knowledge, no less than five million sandstones were used to build the temple. They were transported from the Phnom Kulen mountain, which is located 50 kilometres away from the temple site. One sand block weighs about 1,500 kilograms; this goes to show the laboriousness of the task. The task demanded more than what humans could dispense. So, it is believed that the stones were first taken to the Siem Reap River through canals and then transported to the site using rafts.


A lengthy construction period

The temple was built in a time when there was no technology; everything had to be done manually. Historians estimate the construction period of the temple to be 35 years. Temple was built in the 12th century when Suryavarman II ruled the country. It was to be the king's state temple and the capital city – the king was given divine status, and to Cambodians, he was a god. Walls of the temple are decorated with bas-reliefs that symbolise Hindu and Buddhism. At the time the temple was built, there were no machines available, and as per inscription, 6000 elephants and 300,000 labourers were employed for building the temple.

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