Monday, October 12, 2009

Angkor Wat

When I took a Spanish class not so long ago, I met a guy who came from Cambodia. He showed me some photos of the famous Angkor Wat temple and other tourist attractions in Cambodia. He even named his auto shop from this temple. How I wish someday my family and I can visit this place.
Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation—first Hindu, dedicated to Vishnu, then Buddhist. The temple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.

Angkor Wat combines two basic plans of Khmer temple architecture: the temple mountain and the later galleried temple, based on early South Indian Hindu architecture, with key features such as the Jagati. It is designed to represent Mount Meru, home of the devas in Hindu mythology: within a moat and an outer wall 3.6 kilometres (2.2 mi) long are three rectangular galleries, each raised above the next. At the centre of the temple stands a quincunx of towers. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Angkor Wat is oriented to the west; scholars are divided as to the significance of this. The temple is admired for the grandeur and harmony of the architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs and for the numerous devatas (guardian spirits) adorning its walls.

The modern name, Angkor Wat, means "City Temple": Angkor is a vernacular form of the word nokor which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara meaning capital. wat is the Khmer word for temple. Prior to this time the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok, after the posthumous title of its founder, Suryavarman II.