Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat Temple The World Heritage Of Humanity
This is the temple of Angkor Wat. This temple was built in 1112 by the Khmer king Suriyavarman II. He was a conquering king of the Khmer Empire who reigned from the 1112-1152. He could lived and see his temple at least 5 years before he died. The Angkor Wat was a Hindu temple of the group which built facing to the west, while all the temple structure face to the east. The reason of the Angkor Wat facing to the west because this monument temple was built for God Vishnu. We notice that is not for reason of the funeral temple by facing to west, although the temples facing to the east also the funeral temple. By the way all the monument temples in stone which remained today, they served as the temple when the king was a lived, and become a tomb when the king died. Thus, the Angkor Wat was a tomb of the king Suriyavarman 2, when he died they cremated his body and collected some of his remains put in the golden urn and buried at the underneath of the Golden Statue of Vishnu at the central tower, which mean that he was join with Vishnu god at the Mt Meru when he finished his life on the earth and then he had another name as “Vishnuparamaloka”.
Actually, surrounding the wall of Angkor Wat, there are four entrances but the three entrances are on the north, south and the east were designed smaller and simple with one doorway, different from the west that they built its entrance so enormous and extensive about 200m long with there are five doorways. About the five doorways which using for the transportation by the elephants horses or oxen carts at the end of the structure, these two without any stair, just a flat one, and two after for the lower class of people, while in the middle of the main Gopura only the king and the high position class. You also can see the causeway crossing the moat about 250m leads to the entry tower. The causeway is the symbolic of the rainbow bridge for make the connection between one world to another world. And the moat surrounding is symbolic of the ocean, which considered to protect the Mt Meru. The moat is surrounding 5 km, that its size from north to south is 1300 m, and from the east to the west is 1500 m. The water never dry because from the water table. Besides the moat, there is a wall which represented to the mountain range at the edge of the universe. The wall is 800m from north to south and 1000m from east to west.
When you visit the Khmer temple, the first thing you encounter is the lion. In Cambodia never had this animal, but the Khmer know this animal by the Indian influence by the Hindu mythology. According to the myth, the lion was the guardian of Brahma palace. So, Khmer built the temples for symbolic of the home of the gods in Mt Meru. Otherwise, they put the statue of lion at the front of the temple. This statue of lion was made with one piece of the sandstone, and was destroyed by the Siamese in the 14th century and latest the French had restored. And behind the lion, this is the Naga. The Naga was a mythical snake, and the god of the underworld. They put his statues as the balustrade always along the causeway on the both sides. But it was destroyed in the 14th century, and during the restoration in 1960 they could not find the original stone to restored, because in 1916-1920 the French took them to pave the road, that’s why was empty without any balustrade. About the pavement of this walkway as well, was restored in 1960 but they keep half you can see, how it was. There is a Naga head which still very good condition. The Naga head of the Angkor Wat designed as the form as a fan with seven of them. The surrounding of the heads of the Naga were poor condition by the Siamese destroyed when they occupied Angkor in the 14th century. All the Naga head of Angkor Wat with its body of the first join, they carved with one piece of stone. The seven heads of Naga in Angkor Wat were believed as the condition with the astrology of the seven days of week or the seven heavens of the seven colors of the rainbow. In this area we also notice that, at the Gopura its three towers were fell down by destruction, otherwise they would have a pointed shape as the same as then main five towers of the main building with its seven tiers. So they took the seven number for decoration in the structure of the Angkor Wat when you also can see the seven bars of the windows. Besides, having its significant of what we knew about the seven is the odd number, which considered as the lucky number including with 3, 5, 7 and 9 for example.
At the chambers of the entry tower of the Angkor Wat there are three Vishnu statues in each room. But one statue at the southern shrine is better condition. This statue was made by one piece of sandstone which its high almost 4m. Even today about 90% of the Cambodian people are Buddhist, but they still believe him and everyday the local people come to pray for any kind of the problems they have wishes for the standing statue with eight arms. The head of the statue was a copy one, while its original one was cutting off by the thieves in 1985. But it was so lucky and we did not know what was happened to the bandits, because when they had saw the head, they left the head in the floor did not take away. Since then, they preserved his original in the museum and made anew one instead. You also can see the female statues was considered as Lasmei who is the goddess of beauty and also the chief of the Apsaras.
On the wall of the Gopuras, you can see there are many beautiful Apsaras. There are about 1800 in Angkor Wat complex. Among of them they designed different hair style approximately 130 and wearing with very thin skirts and her feet facing to the side, and holding the lotus bud or the stem of the plant. In this area you also can see the blind windows with magnificent seven columns, and above the windows, there are decorated the warrior who riding on different animals, between demons and goods you can see Deva who has a pointed shape headdress, and Asura wearing a headdress like a fish tail. There is another causeway which significant crossing the underworld to the world and from the world to the heaven. In this section you see only three towers, while the main structure has designed with five towers, because this temple is a good proportion and balance also perfect architecture. The view of the five towers, either on the right or either on the left are the popular spot for the photographs. Because even you can see the reflection in the pools clearly, beside all the sight of the whole structure of Angkor Wat. The palm sugar tree also can see from this side, which on the state tree of Cambodia. For this tree is so useful in the life of the rural area, because in every part of its, are benefit, the same as the state temple in the Khmer in Angkor period, Angkor Wat has three levels as well. And its high is 65m from the ground level. The first level known as the galleries of the bas-relief with its size 180m x 250m. Second level known as the palace for doing the religious ceremony for the public while the third one known as the Bakan mean “Heaven”, which one believed for the sovereignty and the high Brahma priests performed the merits with the gods in the Mt Meru. We also have passed two building on the both side of the causeway those building were served as the libraries. There are two because on the right to used when the priests studied in the waning moon while on the left they use for writing the inscription or the astrological researching on the time of waning moon.
This is the first level of Angkor Wat, which known as the galleries of the bas-relief. It has almost 1km since we started at the beginning from the entrance. That is mean this temple is so large. By the way, Angkor Wat considered as a biggest of the Hindu temple in the world and the most using the stone monument in the world too. Angkor Wat has estimated to use the stone about 300.000 million tons. And took built about more then 35 years. About the bas-relief are in this section depicting the Hindu myths which the Ramayana is one of the popular epic. For example, the gallery north-west is depicting the war between Rama with Ravana. Rama was a number seven of Vishnu reincarnation. His role was keeping the Hindu teaching on the earth from planning to destroy by the Ravana a demon king who rule in Langka and whom kidnapped Sita the wife of Rama. According to the story, the war took place for 14 years, which first 7 years Rama, Lasmana and Hanuman spent building a bridge and the other 7 years spent in the war, until he killed Ravana to liberate his wife.
The second panel is west south, this gallery depict the story of Mahabarata, which Krisna was an hero. Krisna was number eight reincarnation of Vishnu. He come to the earth as a man to served the virtue and to against the tyrants. For example, in this relief he help Pandavas to claim power to improve the peace and mercy to the people in the Kurushutra. We can see the army of Kauravas a cousin of Pandavas who had 100 brother and whose were aggressive and so much jealous with Padavas whose were 5 brother and being gentle. The Kauravas are marching toward to the south for fighting Pandavas who walking to the north and the both teams meet in the middle of the panel with very furious attack. The war between two cousins took place only 18 days. And finally the Pandavas ruled the country with good happiness in his people. Notice that before ready in war, both cousins went to Krisna palace for request him to assort. The solution Krisna helps Pandavas as a driver not holding a weapon, while he offered his whole armies to the Kauravas.
The south-west of Angkor Wat has bas-relief which depicting the real history of the Khmer empire under the reign of king Suriyavarman 2. He was one of the great king of the Khmer empire, who built this temple of Angkor Wat to dedicate to Vishnu the protector. He was a Vishnuist, he considered himself as a Vishnu reincarnation. That’s why he ordered the artists designed the series of myths which depicting the most popular incarnations including Rama, Krisna and himself in stead of Buddha as put his name to involve with Vishnu as “Vishnuparamaloka”. In the sculptures we can see his image sitting in the golden chair surrounding by his Brahmin priests, his courts, his astrologers and his army on the top of Phnom Kulen for discussing the war for fighting the Diet Viet at Nhe Anh of Tonkin Bay in 1127. you can see his five wives who are carried by the royal servants of the palanquins with having a roof for protecting the sunlight. And at behind the queens, you can see his concubines are sitting in the palanquins but without a roof. Saying that the king in the Angkor period had about 2000 concubines.
The king Suriyavarman 2 appeared twice in this panel, the first he is in the audience with his people on the top of the mountain, and the second one is on his elephant for leading his troops to the battle field. As he is so important, that’s why his elephant wearing crown with a conical shape, and there many thing such as parasols, fans and fly whisk about 15 of them above and surrounding him, and as he was following the Vishnu, you can see the solder a statue of Vishnu on the shoulder of Garuda in order to bring a luck for the whole army. You can see there many generals who riding on the elephants with the parasols covering on their heads. The parasols or the umbrellas are remarkable ranking of the generals it depends on how many of them. And about the writing next to the generals are telling the name, the title and the position of each of the important man. At the front of the row, the group of the Siamese solders are walking. The uniform are different even the discipline are different too. You can see that while the Khmer so organized and the Siamese are disorganized. The trees are the background, that’s mean the solders are walking in the jungle. The Siamese joint with Khmer because at that time they were the a part of Khmer Empire.
The gallery of the South-East is depicting the life of 32 hells. This panel you can see the happy life in the heaven, which the people in those palace they don’t care any suffering, they just live with take care the good Dhama by supporting their palaces of Garudas and Kalahas. If they feel hungry they just get a smell of holy flowers, and then they feel very full. Their palaces are floating on the sky. But at the below tire you can see the life are different completely. They are getting sin because they have done the bad thing. That’s why when they died they are getting punishment depending on their Kama or fate. These tortures depicting for 36 different problems of the sinner. In the middle of this gallery is depicting the Yama who is the god of judge. He is riding on a buffalo and holding the justice sticks for judge the new prisoners who just arrived in his palace. You also can see his assistants sitting quietly in order to follow the Yama orders. At further to the east, you also can see many prisoners were sent to the hell and no one goes to the heaven.
The structure of this gallery from the half to the east had been collapsed in between 1940 and restored by the Angkor Conservation Department. After restoration they built the ceiling as following the reproduction idea of its origin by wood. Saying that the building was collapsed the night time when it had a heavy rain with accompanying by the lightning as well. At the morning the local who living surrounding the temple were surprised and believed that something went wrong with spirits. At the end of this panel to the east corner, we see the terrible tortures relief which one the four prisoners are being punished badly by the demons, as they nailed the bodies and hanging the heavy weight rocks at their legs, these images look painful, because those men had the problem by cheating the business.
The East-South gallery of the Angkor Wat is depicting the very famous Hindu myth of the churning of the sea of milk. This story is promotion the Vishnu reincarnation Kurma “The turtle”. Kurma was number two of reincarnation of Vishnu. The myth says that, the demon king Bali order his troops to invade the heaven. The war took place about 100 years, that made Indra the king of heaven and his people Devas were in chaos. Therefore, Indra decided to go to the Mt Meru to ask the god Vishnu the protector to have to fight against and push Demons away from his area. But Vishnu advised Indra to talk with Bali for the immortality as going to the milky ocean for churning it by venture. Bali the king Demons was pleased to hear what Indra mentioned, and he forced Indra don’t waste the time and go to do immediately. But Indra replied that “This protect controlled by the Lord Vishnu for me I don’t know anything about the best way for us, we must go to meet the lord and then we would know the details of the immortality. Both of the king had arrived at the palace of Vishnu at the Mt Meru. And the lord told them “you both must bring your people to uproot mountain Mandara and carry to the ocean of milk in or the to served as a pivot.
As unfortunately, the group of Devas and Demons were notable to carry the mountain Mandara to the ocean. But lord Vishnu gave Garuda to held the mountain on his shoulder and fly directly to the milky sea, and put it in the middle of the ocean. The demons and the Devas run behind the Garuda. The next project, Vishnu called Vasuki “The king of Naga in the underworld” for served as the rope. At the beginning Vasuki was denied to make himself as a rope, because he thought it would hurt. But Vishnu console him that, this would not causing to pain anything, besides, the Vasuki would get the share of the nectar of immortality. When he heard the lord insured, Vasuki had agreed. He tight his body around the mountain and straight horizontal crossing the ocean to make as a rope as demons is holding at the head side and Devas holding at the tail side of Vasuki. Everything is ready, and the both teams pulled and pushed with easily, as at the beginning they thought so tough for pulling such a huge mountain like this, because the learned that, although they couldn’t carry from the beginning. But it was different from what thought. It was easy to churn back and forth.
Not long to go, after churning for a while, the mountain Mandana was sank into the bottom of the sea, the Devas and Demons were not able churning any more. But lord Vishnu took a form as a huge turtle “Kurma” to life the mountain and kept good balance and even he helped to shake his body to make movement of churning as well. The project restarted as usually, but later they got a big problem as the poisonous Hala Hala was emerged from the sea that made many Devas and Demons getting blind and chocked, some getting faint and they had to give up from churning. Indra and Bali were stunning for this terrible situation as they didn’t know what they were going to do. But the god Siva arrived and help to clean the Hala Hala. He transformed into a giant to collect to collect the poison by his both palm, after that he decided to swallow the poisonous Hala Hala in his stomach, because this kind of poison when you through on the earth, it caused to destroy the nature, Siva ensured both teams that, they could continue their works without afraid anything, because Hala Hala had been removed. The Devas and Demons were went back to work happily. As there were many thousand of years had passed, now both team were enjoyed to gain the treasure of precious stone, and so on. But they still did a strongly more and more, because the elixir of the immortality had not come out yet.
After for a while Dr. Dhawantari emerged from the ocean as holding a jar contained with elixir of immortality at the Demons side. The demon whose name Rahu who just was next to Dhawantari surprised so much to see the jar and then he snatching the jar from Dhawantari and run away, Rahu said no even his king name Bali tried to explained that the elixir must share all of Asuras but Rahu ignored. The betraying by Rahu had made Asuras fought for the jar at theseaside. The gods was stunning and concerning that their paradise would belong to the Asuras, because Asuras obtained the holy water from the churning of the milky ocean. As they were thinking like this, the lord Vishnu came back from turtle and said “Please don’t worried, I come here for help the good people and always against the bad spirits, I will use my power to bring the nectar of immortality from Asuras for you. As saying the lord took a form as a beautiful girl name Mohini for charming or enchanting the demons in order to bring a jar with holy water given to Devas. Fighting as terrible at the ocean among themselves because for a jar for immortality with greedy no one would control this incident even the king also joint to fight for a jar of Dhawantari.
Mohini approach at the group of demons and walking with beautiful smile to Rahu and a man who holding a jar of the nectar of immortality. Rahu was excited and thought, Mohoni might love him, but after that, Bali the king of the demons moved to her and suggested that, oh beautiful, you are so gorgeous, you see? When you arrived here all of us seemed like you and quietly, if you don’t mind I would like you help to distribute of the holy water containing in this jar for us. Mohini, replied that if you want so I am happy to do, but I have a small condition, during my activity of sharing, you all must no be saying and keep quiet and standing in row, I also want Devas come to stand opposite for making them feeling impress all of you would getting an immortality. The Asuras were happy to much to hear that, and agreed. Now the group of Asuras and Devas stand in the opposite, and Mohini began her works as coming to the row of Devas and pouring the nectar to the mouth of Devas that made Asuras felt uncomfortable, but afraid of saying to her as they had promised not talking anything during she contribute. Mohini moved from one to one of the Devas until the last one, and she raised a jar and said that “This only one drop left for him, the Asuras who were so aggressive from nature, no right to support from gods”. The Asuras were so angry and rushed to her and said “where is my share of nectar?”. Mohini did not say anything, but took a real form as Vishnu and flow away with Garuda.
The gallery of East-North is depicted the war of victory of Vishnu over demons. The Vishnu and his army walking from the north to confront of demon army who moved from the south. Vishnu the protector god we can tell by he ride on the Garuda with many arms. This bas-relief of this panel was not beautiful, because this relief was cared in the 16th century under the reign of king Ang Chan. King Ang Chan was a good king of Cambodia in the middle era of Cambodia history. He was liberated the country from Sdach Korn and found the new capital city of Loung Vek and found the Angkor Wat by his hunting. From then on he stayed at the Angkor Wat for restoration and complete the bas-relief of Hindu myths into two gallery which at the original had never finished. In the area called Preah Poan he installed many Buddha statues and left many inscription on the pillars.
The gallery of North-East was depicting the war between Vishnu and the demons king Bana. At the beginning of the panel from the east, you can see a big Garuda is extinguishing the fire and the god of fire riding on a rhino. Vishnu riding on the Garuda and tried to chasing Bana who losing the war and running to the palace of Siva, in order to ask Siva to help from Vishnu. To the end of this panel on the west, you see the Siva an old man is sitting down in a long beard with his two sons Skanda and Kanesa. The king Asura Bana the man with there are many faces and many arms is being respected with thankful that Siva had help him from Vishnu who wanted to kill him. Vishnu was upset with Siva by Siva protected Bana his enemy. But Siva said that, you couldn’t kill someone while he or she has confessed their mistake and promised for doing a good thing to the future. Vishnu turned to his home at Mt Meru, and Siva gave a trident as a present to Bana. This relief also has been cared under the reign of king Ang Chan at the 16th century.
The next gallery of North-West is depicting about the war between the 21 Hindu gods with demons. This bas-relief was carved at the 12th century at the original period. This war you can see the major gods who riding on the different animal face to the right hand and wearing a pointed shape of their headdress, which surrounding by the minor gods to fight against the Asuras solders who facing to the left hand side and tip of their headdress are flat. Among the major gods, we can tell some of them including, Vishnu on the Garuda, Brahma on the sacred goose, Indra on Arawata elephant, Suriya on the chariot pulling the horses, Siva on the bull Nandi, Kobura on Asura, Viruna on Naga etc… This war supposed the last for removing the demons from the heaven before creation the new life.
So called “one thousand Buddha hall” Is on the second level of the Angkor Wat temple at the west side. This section is located just in the middle of the whole Angkor Wat compound. When you are standing a point of the crossing shape of the galleries between four ritual pools of this hall, which one considered as the middle of the universe and every side you have look it’s so perfect. In this area also there are four pools of ablution and for purify of washing sin. Depended on the astrology of the person which connection of the four elements such as air, water, fire and earth. The Buddha statues which we see today were installed by the Buddhist monks between the 15th – 19th century. When the king moved the capital city to the area around Phnom Penh, the monks came to control this temple, and since then the temple became the Buddhist temple, that’s why they call Angkor Wat, as the word “Wat” mean the Buddhist monastery and Angkor derived from the Khmer word “Nokor” mean Capital City or the Sacred Capital City. In the Khmer Rouge regime about 60% of Buddha statues had been removed away, and the remains in 1985 government took to keep in the Angkor Conservation office for save keeping. The inscription on the pillars mention about different people in these period dedicated Buddha images in this hall.
There are three stairways from the gallery of one thousand Buddha to the real section of the second level. This level is a bit dark because they designed for the meditation for the public. Today in this area we can see remaining bases of the statues and some Buddha images without heads. This level also used to be many Buddha statues which installed by the Buddhist monks at the 15th-19th century. In the period of 1986-1990, when Indian archeologists had restored, they put the net at the roof where was the wooden ceiling used to be prevent from the bats. The bats were the enemy of the sandstone, because by its acid of their dropping. We notice that between the second to the third level are too close rather than from the first to the second level. That’s mean when you have reach to the earth at the second level, you are ready to enjoy in the heaven at the third level, that’s why they built it by this concept. The third level of Angkor Wat temple was significant the heaven where at that time this area was served as a place just only the king and royalty and the high priests to use for the ritual ceremony. This section designed with a square shape, and there are twelve stairways going to the top from the courtyard of the second level. The twelve staircases are represented to the twelve months of the years, even the total towers of Angkor Wat also designed with twelve towers. At the central sanctuary the original there is a golden statue of Vishnu on the shoulder of Garuda where the king Suriyavarman 2 worshiped. But today this place was blocked at its four doors for engrave the Buddha sculptures by the monks at the 15th century. In 1935 a French archeologist removed the Buddha at the southern side in order to dig to the bottom of the structure for researching what had happened. He had dug about 25 m deep till the ground level, in there he was able to find a piece of the golden leave with a square shape in the middle of crossing shape of sandstone foundation. That’s why we see the south door is open, and then he made a cement Buddha statues to instead of. The four pools are around the central tower with recycle by a gallery were believed to use for purify for the high position people as the same purpose as the one in the second level as well.
Location: Siem Rea, Cambodia.