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Angkor Wat Temple


Angkor Wat


  • Angkor Wat is a Hindu Temple dedicated to Vishnu. In the 16th century it became a Buddhist Temple although Vishnu remains here also. However some believe it also was intended to be a tomb. This view is supported by the symbolism of the entrance to the West, of the setting Sun and death, and the arranging for the base-reliefs to be viewed from left to right, a Hindu practice used in religious ceremonies for tombs.
  • In line to the center of the Royal Terraces and Palace some 1.5 kilometers away, the 5 Gates are accessed by causeways across the moat. The South Gate is 30 meters long and 5 meters wide. Originally there were 7 meter high wooden doors on both the front and rear to each gate.
The Various Deities (Gods) In the Hindu Religion
  • In Hinduism, there is a large number of deities (Gods). The original ones in the early period such as Indra or Varuna are still respected until now, but their significance is less. The Indra Shrine in Bangkok (pictured opposite) is a current Temple for worshipers in Bangkok.
  • The three principal gods of Hinduism are Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. Together, they are called Trimurti, the three forms,'Tri' (three), 'murti' (form). These three gods are respected unevenly. Although there have been attempts to combine all gods together, Hindus normally worship only one god. As a consequence, Hinduism is separated into several denominations depending upon which God they respect.



Angkor Wat



Angkor Wat


  • Angkor Wat contains the World's largest collection of bas-relief murals.
  • There are three major collections, the Devatas (some 1,800) and the Apsaras all of which are dispersed throughout the exterior and interior of the Temple, and the murals depicting scenes from mythology on the second floor gallery of the main building.
  • Apsaras. The Angkor dancing ladies carved in relief on the walls of the major Temples, such as, Angkor Wat, Preah Khan and Bayon, are 'Apsaras'.
  • Apsaras are seen with one leg off the ground, arms flowing and no individual facial styles. They are usually dressed with gold headdresses and their fingures are bent backwards as if with no joints or bones.
  • They originate in Hindu mythology as spirits, the equivalent to the English concept of a nymph or celestial nymph or maiden. Examples of famous Apsaras can be seen in the ancient Indian texts, the Rig Veda and the Mahabharata. Southeast Asia was 'Indianised ' with Indian traditions and religions prior to the Khmer Empire.
  • The front wall of Angkor Wat is called the West Gopura. 'Gopura ' means... Here is the main entrance and gateway to this enormous temple complex. Visitors going inside the Temple can access through three porticos and additionally there are two larger door ways for elephants and now vehicles.
  • Here on the exterior wall is the public display of 124 individually carved Devatas positioned along the exterior of the wall. There are a further 119 Devatas on the interior side of this western wall and 8 in each elephant gateway at the south and north points.
  • This is a display of 259 individual women from the 12 th century each dressed in the costumes of the time.These costumes are unusual to the modern eye and exciting. They display a flair of showmanship, the faces are lovely, the bodies slender and in the fashion of the time, substantially naked.
  • This is the most prominent position for the outside world to see, so why these beautiful ladies ? No one knows the answer. They have been on display here for over 1,000 years.
  • The outside wall faced the general public and the sun setting in the west. The inside wall faces the rising morning Sun and in terms of the day, the Sun God, Surya. Here line the 119 Devatas facing this eastern vista and the temple itself. Tourists should walk at the foot of this wall along its south - north line and discover some very beautiful ladies.
  • Additionally here also are excellent locations to photograph the temple in the east.



Angkor Wat



Angkor Wat


  • Angkor Wat is a temple built by Hindu Khmers accepting a religion introduced to them by Hindus from India some 1,000 years before it was built. Through out Angkor visitors will see other smaller places of worship to Vishnu. Here one can see old ladies tendering some stone monument which they believe has religious significance.
  • So what or who is Vishnu? Religion is highly subjective and even written text on the subject is often confused by the meaning of words and the prior assumptions of what is so, plus the confusion of what is real, what is mythology and what is simple blind faith. A study of Indian religions is equally very confusing.
  • Vishnu to the Khmer Hindus was (is) a God, not ''the God'' as the Christians, Jews and Muslims would believe, but one of several.
  • So what form does this '' God '' take and why and what is the extend of his role with other '' Gods '' in Angkor Cambodia? Basically this varies depending on who you ask and there is no mutually exclusive list of powers and functions. This is so because of the nature of Hinduism.
  • Vishnu's stone image at Angkor Wat follows the classic Hindu mythology of arranging Vishnu with four arms in a partially classically accepted icon form.
  • Also confusing to the visitor is the co-acceptance in the Angkor temples of the Buddhist religion. As Buddha explained, there are no Gods, only reality and self delusion. So as a visitor you are visiting a place where the Hindu tradition said there were numerous Gods, including the living Gods in the form of the rulers, and where a new religion came to explain there were no Gods, and hence the assumptions of such by the rulers were false. In Southeast Asia today (except for the Muslim communities) acceptance of multiple, and conflicting faiths or thought process still continues and as a form of ''insurance'' Southeast Asians accept and respect no matter the contradiction. Some might say, to so accept all is to accept nothing. Perhaps this is the defence of the poor and formally uneducated who dare not confront.