Angkor Wat – Angkorian Temple Dedicated to Vishnu
Angkor Wat (អង្គរវត្ត) is the world largest religious monuments which has been treated as the world’s most valuable heritage. Angkor Wat not only attractive to visitors around the world with its beauty, but also its perfection of construction architecture. Thus it has become Cambodia’s most preserved temple which attracted millions visitors every year. Angkor Wat represents the highest level of Khmer architecture and it has become a symbol of Cambodia, the only element appearing on the national flag of Cambodia.
Angkor Wat was built in the first half of the 12th century since the beginning of King Suryavarman II’s reign (1113-1150). It was built as his state temple and capital city. ‘Angkor Wat’ simply means ‘Temple of the capital’ which ‘Angkor’ is derived from Sanskrit meaning ‘city or capital’. ‘Wat’ is Khmer word for ‘temple’. Angkor Wat was originally built to dedicate to Hinduism, mainly Vishnu. It’s believed that Angkor Wat temple was designed by Divakarapandita, the chief adviser and minister of the king who was a Brahman with divine honors.
Angkor Wat’s orientation is different from other temples in the area which the main entrance is at the west, rather than the east. The bas reliefs are arranged for viewing from left to right which is a practice used in Hindu religious ceremonies for tombs. Because of this J.Przyluski, who studied about Angkor Wat, concluded that Angkor Wat is a tomb. For G. Ceodes, other researcher, claimed that Angkor Wat might be a tomb because of its main entrance is from the west, but Angkor Wat is no difference from other temple that it is the home of the king’s statue in the form of divinity. However, his conclusion was strongly claimed that Angkor Wat was funerary temple or mausoleum. In generally, Angkor Wat is accepted as a temple where the king worshiped to his Hindu gods and it was also a mausoleum for the king after his death.
Leper King Terrace
The Leper King Terrace is a massive terrace stands independent of the other buildings of the Royal Square of Angkor Thom. It locates immediately north of the Elephant Terrace.
Built in the reign of King Jayavarman VII (1181-1220), the terrace has its name after a statue of the Leper King that was discovered on top. The statue being seen today at the terrace is a replica. The original statue is now in the National Museum in Phnom Penh. The figure of the Leper King is depicted in a seated position in the Javanese style, in which the right knee raised, and in his right hand was holding a mace (now missing).
Prasat Kuhak Nokor or Prasat Kuk Nokor
Kuhak Nokor is a 11th century temple located in Kampong Thom province, about 96km from Phnom Penh. Visitors can be easily reach the temple from the nation road no.6, turn left through an entrance of a Buddhist pagoda ‘Wat Kuhak Nokor’.
Kuhak Nokor was built in the reign of King Suryavarman I (1002-1050). The temple is made of laterite and decorated with sandstone lintel, fronton, and pillars. The temple is surrounded by the rectangular 3 meters high wall in the length of 45 m and 35 m wide. The temple faces east and visitors can enter through the east gopura of 9 m high. At the west wall, there is another gopura, but it’s the false one. In front of the central tower, there are two ponds which is the structure of the Hindu temple. The highest tower of the central sanctuary is 15 m high and has only one opening porch to the east, no window on the walls.
However, the temple has only one library at the left, faces to the west. On the left wall there is another building (13 m long, 7 m wide) which the local called it ‘Kuk Sampov’, where ‘sampov’ means sailing boat. It was named so because the building has the shape similar to a sailing boat.
Kuhak Nokor hasn’t been decorated with many carving like other temples. We find only one carving of Indra on his three-head elephant on the lintel of the main tower. However, Kuhak Nokor is built in a good structure and well balancing.
Prasat Andet is another Hindu temple located about 27 km north west of Kampong Thom provincial. The date of construction of the temple date back to the 7th century in the reign of King Jayavarman I. The temple is constructed in rectangular shape of 7.5 m long and 5.5 m wide, under Prei Kmeng style with one single tower. It’s made of brick with some parts decorated by sandstone. There is only one opening porch to the east, and the other three walls are false doors. The temple was built as a worship place of Hinduism in the ancient time, which a Harihara statue was house inside. Currently the statue is kept in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
The whole area around Prasat Andet are flooded every year during raining season, but the temple was built on a high artificial hill that it’s never been flooded. That’s why the temple got the name as Prasat Andet, means Floating Temple.
Currently Prasat Andet is hidden behind a Viheara of a modern Buddhist pagoda, in which it took the same name as the temple as ‘Wat Prasat Andet’.
Prasat Suor Prat Group
Prasat Suor Prat group is refer to the 12 small towers built in exactly the same style located in Angkor Thom area, opposite to the Elephant Terrace. The 12 towers are lined on either side of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. The two rows of five towers are in straight lines, facing west which is unusual for a shrine. The two towers which close to the road of the Royal Palaceentrance to the Victory Gate, are slightly set back to the east and facing to each other (face to the road).
Prasat Suor Prat group was built in the reign of King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century. The towers were built by laterite and sandstone towers. The plan is square with one opening porch to the west, facing to the Royal Palace, There is no sanctuary inside the towers. There are large windows on the other three sides.
Angkor Thom locates in Angkor complex, to the south west corner of the first capital of Yasodharapura (late 9th century) which was the third city and the largest city of Angkor period, as its name means ‘Great City’. Angkor Thom was built in the late 12th century and early 13th century by the great Khmer King Jayavarman VII. Angkor Thom is surrounded by moat of 100 meters wide and 2 meters deep and walls made by laterite of about 3km square and 7 meters high with 5 entrances.
In the central of Angkor Thom built the state temple of King Jayavarman VII – Bayon Temple. The four entrances of Angkor Thom were built in the central of the four walls in a straight line with the four entrances of Bayon Temple. The South entrance is called ‘Tonle Om Gate’, the gate in which opening for tourists nowadays. The North entrance is called ‘Dei Chhnang Gate and the West entrance named ‘Ta Kav Gate’. Continue reading