In southeast Asia, on the Indochina peninsula, on the territory of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Angkor Wat is located – the largest Hindu temple in the world. The temple is in the jungle, 6 km from the provincial city of Siemreal and 240 km from the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
The history of the heavenly palace
In the IX-XIII centuries, a powerful civilization flourished here – and the Khmer empire , which included Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos. Asserting their power, the Khmers erected grandiose buildings, including Angkor Wat, a temple of a religious complex that has survived to this day. The temple is a place of pilgrimage for tourists.
Who created Paradise on Earth
The ancient capital of the Khmer Empire – Angkor with an area of 200 hectares with a population of 1,000,000 people became the site of the construction of a temple unseen before that time. The city-temple (as Angkor Wat is translated) was built in 1150 AD. under King Suryavarman II. The king took the throne at the age of 14, personally killing his uncle, the current Khmer ruler. The impostor, without embarrassment, told his subjects about his divine origin.
To assure the people of this, Suryavarman ordered to build Paradise on Earth – the majestic temple of Angkor Wat. The temple was built in an unprecedentedly short time – 35 years, but the sovereign died before the completion of construction.
The ashes of the divine messenger were cremated and placed in a stone sarcophagus in the middle of the temple, which became the royal tomb. Khmer temples were not built for the gathering of believers, they were erected as a dwelling place for the gods, access to which was open only to priests and monarchs.
Discovery of an ancient structure
The world famous temple of Angkor Wat owes to the French traveler and naturalist Henri Muo, who accidentally discovered the structure while traveling in Indochina.
The greatness of the structure he saw shocked the scientist, who wrote: “The temple is incomprehensible to the mind. You look in confusion and bewilderment, admire and, seized with reverence, freeze in awe-inspiring silence.
The genius of the creator of this creation connected various parts with such art into a single whole that one can only wonder. Only the most gifted can fulfill these dreams. “
The Angkor Wat temple is an example of Hindu architecture, dedicated to the god Vishnu. Angkor Wat in Cambodia is built from 5 million tons of sandstone. The stone blocks are cut evenly and fit snugly together so that the knife blade does not fit between them.
The stones, fitted to each other, are not fastened by anything and are held only by their own weight. Stones of irregular shape and concavity are interconnected like puzzles. Modern technologies are not capable of repeating masonry.
Stone blocks were transported by ancient builders through water channels from quarries located on the Kulen plateau, 40 km from the construction site. The outer walls of the temple are made of litite, a stone that is easy to work with, but hardens in the air, like granite.
Why did people leave the city
500 years ago, people left the city-temple, leaving at the mercy of the jungle, and went to explore the new capital of the kingdom of Phnom Penh. What happened seems strange. After all, Angkor Wat was a prosperous city. The fertile land yielded 3 crops of rice a year, the lake abounded in fish, and the dense forests abounded in game.
Each new ruler arranged the city so that the center of the old city was on the outskirts of the new one. The giant city grew, gradually turning into a city of temples, until it was captured by Thai troops in 1431. The city became deserted, a humid climate with lush vegetation turned the capital into ruins, and the jungle gradually swallowed it.
Temple city from the outside
Angkor Wat is located in the center of the complex, which is surrounded by 200 places of worship. The area of the temple is 2.5 square kilometers, its height is 65 meters. The territory of Angkor Wat is in the form of a square island, surrounded by a 190-meter ditch, behind which an outer wall, 1024 meters long, 802 meters wide, with a wall height of 4.5 meters, stretches. In the old days, crocodiles were bred in a wide ditch. The walls are rectangular in shape, each of which is oriented to a certain side of the world.
On the western side, the moat is crossed by a stone dam – the entrance to the territory of the temple. From the gate leads a long and wide road of massive sandstone blocks, laid along an embankment that rises one and a half meters above the ground. On the south side there is a huge statue of the god Vishnu.
The ancient custom of the Khmers is to make offerings to the god in the form of gold sheets or small precious stones, which were left in the recess of the statue of the god. The Big Reclining Buddha is still worshiped by Asian visitors.
Angkor Wat inside
Angkor Wat is a huge three-stage pyramid, consisting of three platforms following one after the other. All three terraces are surrounded by galleries with gable roofs. The terraces are connected to each other by numerous staircases. On the upper terrace, there are five lotus-shaped towers.
Four towers are at the corners, the highest one is 42 meters high in the center, the height of the temple is 65 meters. The towers are connected by patterned walls adorned with bas-reliefs of 1,500 dancing beautiful goddesses.
All buildings of Angkor Wat, executed strictly and clearly, are covered with lush decorations. There are hundreds of sculptures in the temple. Each stone is decorated with carvings. There is no place inside the temple where the hand of the carver would not touch.
Many kilometers of carving on all the tiers of the temple, striking the quality of the details, was carried out on the already installed blocks. The work of the carvers is difficult: it is difficult to correct the mistake, the damaged block in the wall would have to be replaced.
Hundreds of bas-reliefs on the walls of the temple depicting mythological subjects of ancient Hinduism and scenes from the life of gods and goddesses. The bas-reliefs are revived by images of warriors and elephants, snakes, fish and monkeys.
Thousands of figures in the bas-reliefs reflect scenes from palace and military life during the days of Hindu rule. On the pillar of the temple, astonished scientists have found an image of a herbivorous dinosaur – the Snow Taurus, which became extinct tens of millions of years ago. Where the Khmers saw him is anyone’s guess.
The restoration of Angkor’s former splendor began in December 1992, with the creation of a committee in Tokyo to revive the city-temple. Huge trees, destroying the walls, were cut down; entrances, ceilings, walls, paths – restored. Scientists from different countries are working on the restoration, there will be enough work for everyone for many decades. Examining the temples, scientists came to the conclusion that the main temples of Angkor are earthly reflections of the stars of the constellation of the Dragon.
The Angkor Wat temple is the soul and heart of the Khmer people, a symbol of the prosperity of a civilization that has influenced the culture of the states of Southeast Asia. The image of the Angkor Wat temple – the symbol of Cambodia, adorns the state flag of the kingdom.
Angkor is a functioning temple complex, where Buddhist monks live. Since 1990, the temple has been run by a private company, which returns 28% of the proceeds for the restoration. Since 1992, the temple complex has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.