The Angkor Wat history dates back in the 12th century A.D. The name Angkor Wat typically means the “temple city” and it is one of the world’s largest religious monuments ever constructed. Its construction began in A.D. 1113, and it took 37 years to be completed.
The city where Angkor Wat is found was once the capital city of the Khmer Empire, which was in present-day Cambodia. At one time this was the largest city in the world with a population of about one million people. It had many temples but none of them held such significant meaning as Angkor Wat.
Vishnu and The King
Initially Angkor Wat was built as a Hindu temple devoted to the god Vishnu. Later in the 14th century it was converted to a Buddhist temple with the addition of Buddha statues. It was built by King Suryavarman II at the beginning the 12th century in 1113 A.D. Suryavarman reigned from 1112 to 1152 A.D. and was famous for conquering many empires when he ruled. During this time, the king admired the god Vishnu and installed a statue of the god inside Angkor Wat’s tower, depicting the god as its protector. According to the scholars this relief is acknowledged as one of the best art pieces in Angkor Wat.
The construction of Angkor Wat was an overwhelming undertaking which involved intensive digging, quarrying and careful artistic work. First, a moat of 1.5 million cubic meters was created around the temple. About 53 million cubic feet of silt and sand had to be removed to make it and a large number of people had to be employed on the construction site.
The main challenge that the builders faced was finding a material that could hold water in that area. They used a material known as laterite to support the building and encased this material with softer sandstone. The sandstone had to be transported 18 miles from Kullen hills where they were quarried and shipped by river.
Why it Was Built
The purpose of the construction of Angkor Wat is still debatable. It is not clear if the ashes of king Suryavarman II were buried in the monument and if they were part of the deposits found by the archaeologists. If this is the case, then the temple would have been meant for burial purposes.
According to scholar Eleanor Mannikka, the temple is located at 13.14 degrees north latitude and the distance between the north and south axis where this temple lies is 13.43 cubits. This, Eleanor believes, is not just a coincidence but a revelation that Khmer knew the earth was round. This would be the reason why Vishnu was placed at the center of the temple, which is also the center of the earth. In her writings Mannikka also points out that the temple had some important astronomical roles. This was concluded after dozen of lunar motions aligned with the Angkor Wat towers.