Angkor Wat or Angkor Temple is a famous tourist site in Angkor, Cambodia. It was originally built as a Hindu temple but later served the Buddhist religion. Angkor Wat was built in the time of King Suryavarman II as the state temple, dedicated to the god Vishnu.
How Big is Angkor Wat?
Angkor Wat is about 1 square kilometer in size. This is not counting the square river canal that surrounds it on all sides. The outer wall of Angkor Wat is 1024 meters by 802 meters and is 4 ½ meters tall. It is completely nestled in 30 meters of land and a 190 meter wide moat.
Within the outer wall is an enclosure 820,000 square meters in size. This is equivalent to more than 200 acres of land. Originally this was part of the city and also the monarch’s official residence in the northern part.
Angkor Wat has two entrances, one in the east and one in the west. The eastern entrance is a bank, the western entrance is a causeway made of sandstone. The latter was added later, and may have replaced an original bridge made of wood. Unlike most other temples of this kind, Angkor Wat faces west, not east; the western front is the main entrance.
The Angkor Wat complex stands on a raised field above the rest of the city. It is made up of a threesome of galleries, each one higher than the last one. The outer gallery is 187 x 215 meters. After this, the next two galleries are joined together. On the second level, it measures 100 x 115 meters. The inner gallery is a 60 x 60 meter square area. A tower overlooks the chief shrine at a height of 65 meters.
Angkor Wat is famous for its extensive display of Hindu sculptures. The inside of the outer gallery’s walls, for example, have impressive bas-reliefs depicting scenes from the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, the two great epics of Hindu literature. In the southern gallery, one will see portrayals of the 37 levels of heaven and 32 planes of hell in the Hindu religion. On the eastern gallery is the famous milk-churning scene where gods (devas) and demons (asuras) turn the cosmic sea of milk as directed by Vishnu, one of the three chief gods of Hindu mythology. The northern gallery shows Krishna in battle and also a war between gods and demons. Krishna is the lord of the Bhagavad Gita, which is part of the Mahabharata.
Angkor Wat is Cambodia’s most popular tourist attraction, and a shining example of Khmer classical architecture.