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Angkor is a region in Cambodia near modern day Siem Reap that used to be the capital of Khmer empire. The Khmer empire was founded by Jayavarman II a Hindu emperor who unified various regions and formed the Khmer Empire. He was called as the Universal Monarch. The word Angkor means “Nagar” in Indo-Aryan language Sanskrit which means City. There are more than thousand temples in the Angkor area, most of which are ruined into scattered brick rubbles. But Angkor Wat, the largest single monument stands magnificently even after so many centuries. According to the modern researchers, Angkor was the largest preindustrial city in the world which would have spanned for at least 1,000 square kilometers with well connected routes. The population of Angkor remains a huge debate and it is estimated that the Angkor area may have supported about a million people.
Angkor Wat is one of the major archaeological monuments on earth, located in northern Cambodia. This magnificent site built by Suryavarman II in early 12th century in south-east Asia stands as a unique master piece of Khmer empire. The emperor primarily built this temple complex as his state temple with an intention to represent his capital city, which later brought not only the pride but stood as a symbol to highlight the Khmer architectural skill. Since its establishment, Angkor Wat temple stands as an important religious centre of Hinduism, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and Buddhism, devoted to Buddha. Angkor What temple is one the greatest tourist attraction in Cambodia, visited by millions of tourists every year. Angor Watt holds the privilege to appear on the country's national flag.
The literal meaning of the word Angkor Wat is "City Temple". Angkor Wat is also spelled as Angor Watt or Angkor What. Angkor Wat is combination of a Sanskrit and a Pali word. The exact meaning of Angkor is "nagar" a Sanskrit word which means a City and Wat means "vatthu" a Pali word indicating 'temple grounds'. Angkor Wat is an excellent masterwork designed with the combination of "Temple Mountain" which was the standard design of the Khmer empire and the "galleried temples" influenced by South Indian Hindu architecture (mainly Chola from Tamil Nadu). This temple represents Mount Meru, which is considered to be the home of Devas in Hindu Mythology and walls of the temple being adorned with thousands of decorative Devatas. The quincunx tower at the center indicates the five isolated peaks of the Meru mountain walls and the defensive moats surround this wonderful castle.
Angkor Wat Temple stretches for about 400 km, constituting the remains of the Khmer Empire spanning across many capital cities of the 9th to 15th century. This high quality Khmer monument is built primarily using sandstone (rather than laterites or bricks), indicating the architectural skills even during the 12th century. Angkor What temple has a classic architectural perfection which was made possible by the finest elements used for construction and the proportion in which they were structured. This temple can be defined as a "successful icon" of harmony and style. Unlike the other Khmer temples Angkor Wat is constructed towards West and not the East. This has led historians to conclude that Suryavarman II would have constructed this astonishing monument with the intent to use this as his funerary temple. This is highly evidenced by the order of bas-reliefs structure which proceeds in the counter clockwise direction that stands contradictory to the normal order (clockwise direction). According to historians, only Rituals done for Brahminic Funeral take the reverse order called Prasavya – meaning counter clockwise in Hindu Mythology. Also a container recovered from the central tower was claimed to be the funerary jar of Suryavarman II, by the archaeologist Charles Higham. In 1992, Angkor Wat temple was declared as UNESCO World heritage site. Surprisingly, in the same year the same monument was declared as one of the World Heritage in Danger. The reasons of this setback include declining water table, looting and unsustainable tourist count in the recent years. The only thing convincing is, UNESCO has now taken necessary measures to safeguard this symbolic icon and its surroundings.