Angkor Wat : The Temple City
The Angkor Wat is a Buddhist temple located about six kilometers north of Siem Reap in Cambodia. The word ‘Angkor Wat’ literally means ‘big temple’ or ‘temple city’. The temple has been rightly named as it encompasses an area of about 500 acres, thereby being renowned all the world over as one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed.
Angkor Wat is an architectural masterpiece of the glorious Khmer Empire, possessing an unrivaled beauty of its own kind. The construction of Angkor Wat was initiated by a king named Suryavarman II. It was originally built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, of whom Suryavarman II was a great follower. In the 14th century, statues of Buddha were added and Angkor Wat was converted into a Buddhist temple.
Built roughly between A.D. 1113 and 1150, it took almost 30 years for the completion of the construction of Angkor Wat. Laterite encased with softer sandstone was used as the basic raw material for its construction. Angkor Wat is also surrounded by a 650-foot-wide moat. This moat is 13 feet deep and historians and archaeologists believe that it was constructed in order to help stabilize the temple’s foundation. Till date, Angkor Wat occupies an important position and continues to be one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia.
The moment you enter inside Angkor Wat, a central tower, 65 meters surrounded by four smaller towers and a series of enclosure walls greets the tourist. This layout is considered to be representative of the image of Mount Meru. Hindu mythology places special importance on Mount Meru as it is said to be the home of the gods, lying somewhere beyond the Himalayas.
Angkor Wat primarily witnesses two distinct seasons, the dry season from November to March, and the rainy season from May to October. Otherwise, theAngkor region usually remains hot and sticky throughout the year. The months between March to May are brutally hot, with temperatures even soaring beyond 40°C at times. From July to October, though the temperature is moderate, however due to the on and off rainfall, the temple is most likely to be surrounded by quagmires of mud. Thus, as per travel enthusiasts, the best time to visit Angkor Wat is from November to February. Another interesting option is to opt for April as it is in this month that Chaul Chhnam occurs, allowing you to blend temple exploration with a taste of Cambodian culture.
Direct flight to Siem Reap, where Angkor Wat is located is available from all prominent Asian countries. Once you reach Siem Reap, Angkor is located about 5.5 kilometres to the north,5.5 km. Visitors have a variety of options for covering this distance such as bicycle, car, motorcycle and vans. Thus, accessing Angkor Wat is not a big issue.
Entry and exit to Angkor Wat is only allowed from its west gate. Visitors should note that tourist tickets are priced at $20 for single day. There is also the option of taking a three-day pass, priced at $40. Tourists should also ensure that they do their research thoroughly and strictly adhere to the dress code as prescribed when visiting these temples.
For an enlightening and peaceful vacation, definitely plan a trip to Angkor Wat, Cambodia.