Angkor what? This is a favorite joke of the tourists that arrive in Siem Reap. A Small town where millions of people stay for one single reason, to wake up long before dawn, get a tuk-tuk and make a journey to the world’s biggest temple complex. This enchanted ritual brings together travelers from all over the world to make sure that they leave the place a little better than they were before.
Angkor Wat is only one of the dozens of Angkor’s temples. But it is the biggest and the most popular one.
Originally built as a Hindu temple of God Vishnu in the 12th century, the temple was later changed by many other king-gods. Gradually, it transformed into a Buddhist temple. Each new king strived to add something new to the whole complex, making it even bigger every time.
Angkor Wat is the heart and soul of Cambodia and of many other people around the world that found their place of strength in the middle of the largest religious monument in the world. By the way, it is the only temple of the whole complex that has been continuously used throughout the centuries.
Things You Need to Know Before Visiting Angkor Wat:
1. Wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
Because you are going to be walking a lot! And even if you have a tuk-tuk that will be taking you from one temple to another – you will still spend a lot of time walking inside the temples themselves, especially, when it comes to Angkor Wat.
2. Bring a lot of water.
By the end of the trip you are going to be exhausted. Moreover, even during the winter time it can be hot in Cambodia. So, make sure to stay hydrated and look for shadow from time to time.
3. Visit during sunrise or sunset.
One of the best views in the world (yes, it is that good) can be witnessed in Angkor Wat during sunrise or sunset. That is thanks to two giant ponds right in front of the temple that reflect the amazing structure and nature. By the way, you might be lucky to arrive in Cambodia when the lotus blossoms and covers the ponds
4. Wear respectful clothing.
Yes, it might get extremely hot. But the truth is that you simply won’t be able to enter the majority of the sights, if your knees and shoulders are not covered. It is a religious place after all.
5.Children under 12 are restricted to enter some of the places. Take that into consideration, if you’re traveling with your family.
The Special Features of the Temple
Angkor Wat has a Western orientation, which is untypical, as west is usually the symbol of death. That is exactly why a lot of scientists think that Angkor Wat was primarily a tomb.
The temple is famous for having more than 3000 celestial nymphs carved into the walls. They are called “The Apsaras”, beautiful dancing girls that entertained the Gods. Each of the nymphs is unique. By the way, researchers discovered 37 different hairstyles used to depict these heavenly creatures.
You will be astonished by the longest bas-relief in the world. It represents historical events and different stories from mythology. The details are truly fascinating and will take your breath away.
Scientists like to think that just like many other temple-mountains Angkor Wat represents the Universe in a small scale. Mt Meru (the central tower) is surrounded by continents and oceans (lower courtyards and the moat). The seven headed mythical serpent (Naga) becomes a symbolic bridge, a way for man to reach the Gods.