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Monday, 14 May 2012

Angkor Wat : Largest Hindu Temples in Modern Cambodia

3D Picture of Angkor Wat From

Khmer Empire and Angkor Wat:

Angkor the royal capital of the Khmers,

One of the most important civilization in Southeast Asia, the Khmer Empire was ruled frm the 9th to the 15th Centuries by god-like kings. They Glorified themselves and their people by their magnificent building projects. Angkor the royal capital of the Khmers, was founded in 802 by Jayavarman-II. People flocked to the city from all over the region. In the 12 th century Angkor`s Masterpiece, Angkor Wat was built. Shortly afterwards both city and temple were sacked by the Chams, but they were rebuilt by Jayavarman VII within 50 years.

3D Picture of Angkor Wat From

The temples of Angkor are highly symbolic structures. The foremost Hindu concept is the temple-mountain, where the temple is built as a representation of the mythical Mount Meru: this is why so many temples, including Angkor Wat itself, are surrounded by moats, built in a mountain-like pyramidal shape and topped by precisely five towers, representing the five peaks of Mount Meru. The linga (phallus), representing the god Shiva, was also critical and while the lingas themselves have largely gone, linga stands (carved, table-like blocks of stone) can be found in many if not most rooms in the temples. There was also a political element to it all: most kings wanted to build their own state temples to symbolize their kingdom and their rule.

The temples of Angkor are highly symbolic structures
 Ruins of rich Khmer civilization that dominated north-western  Cambodia and eastern Thailand for about 500 years until the 15th century .Its extensive network of temples and man made lakes and irrigation canals was discovered , hidden by centuries in Jungle undergrowth , in 1860 more than 600 Hindu Temples, some as big as Cathedrals, all with elaborately uncovered and restored.

The Elephant Terrace

The two largest complexes were at Angkor Wat meaning "Temple city"  in the Khmer Language and at Angkor Thom. At the heart f the each complex a pyramidal temple-mountain with 5 ornate. Soaring towers.The rectangular lakes reservoirs also known as barais and the network of canals functioned mainly to re-create on earth an image f the Hindu Buddhist universe.Some images of the Buddha are thought  to be portraits of Khmer Kings.

One of the 216 stone faces that adorn the towers of Bayon

The Angkor complex appears t have been abandoned by the Khmer  after the Thais attacked to Cambodia . Since 1975, when Pol Pot led the communist Takeover of the country , the Temples of Angkor , believed to be the largest  single group religious building in the world, have been inaccessible to travellers . The Jungle Has Taken over again and archaeologists fear that fast growing foliage and water erosion may have damaged the monuments.

Pre Rup, one of the many temple ruins within the Angkor Archaeological Park

The kingdoms of Khmer were under heavy Indian Influence. The Temple city of Angkor was founded in the year 900 and was the capital of huge kingdom  until the 15th century.The Khmers subjugated their neighbours in present day Thailand and Vietnam through military campaigns.The Khmer shared the predominance in south-east Asia with the Burmese and the south Vietnamese Chams.

History of Hinduism and Buddhism in Cambodia:

Buddhism entered Cambodia through two different streams. The earliest forms of Buddhism, along with Hindu influences, entered the Funan kingdom with Hindu merchants. In later history, a second stream of Buddhism entered Khmer culture during the Angkor empire when Cambodia absorbed the various Buddhist traditions of the Mon kingdoms of Dvaravati and Haripunchai.

Unconfirmed Singhalese sources assert that missionaries of King Ashoka introduced Buddhism into Southeast Asia in the 3rd century BC. Various Buddhist sects competed with Brahamanism and indigenous animistic religions over approximately the next millennium; during this period, Indian culture was highly influential

Th Funan Kingdom that flourished between 100 BC and 500 AD kingdom was Hindu, with the kings of Funan sponsoring the worship of Vishnu and Shiva. Buddhism was already present in Funan as a secondary religion in this era.Buddhism began to assert its presence from about year 450 onward, and was observed by the Chinese traveler I Ching toward the close of the seventh century.

Extent of the Empire:

Extent of the Empire:

Angkor, the capital of Khmer culture, was in present day Cambodia. At the peak of its power,the empire streached from the South China Sea to the Gulf of Siam ( Modern Thailand),and included all of what is today Cambodia, eastern Thailand Vietnam and Laos.


Buddhist son, Jayavarman VII,

Most Khmer Kings were Hindu , therefore many of Angkor Wat`s sculptures are monuments t hindu gods. Some of The Kings were actually thought to be god-kings. The hindu Suryavarman II believed himself to be an incarnation f the Hindu god Vishnu, while his Buddhist son, Jayavarman VII, believed himself to be a reincarnation of the Buddha.

Elephants had great religious significance

The Khmer believing that Elephants had great religious significance, captured them and trained them for war service and parades. one famous regiment included around 200,000 Elephants.

Angkor Wat:

Angkor Wat is the greatest Khmer temple and was the largest religious building in the world for centuries

Angkor Wat is the greatest Khmer temple and was the largest religious building in the world for centuries. Built of Stone materials reserved for the gods - it took about 50,000 workers just over 40 years to complete in the reign of Suryavarman II (1113-50). Legend has it that the temple was nt built by humans but by the god Indra, who came to earth to create it. Reliefs include scene of Hindu Gods, the Khmer peoople at warand royal processions.


The Khmer success was due to their agricultural sophistication.

The Khmer success was due to their agricultural sophistication. An advanced system was needed to support the large populations within the temple-places. Engineers built network of channels, which apart from containing fish also irrigated rice fields and fruit trees in the dry season, so they produced abundant harvests, because of this, the empire became the richest in South east Asia.


Life at court and parades are carved around the walls of the Bayon

Historical events, Life at court and parades are carved around the walls of the Bayon, the last great Khmer temple built at Angkor. Suryavarman II `s son Jayavarman VII, built the Bayon to commemorate a resounding victory over the Neighbouring Cham people, who had destroyed Angkor in 1177.

Buddhist nun. Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia (January 2005).

Jayavarman VII :

The heroic Jayavarman

The heroic Jayavarman (1181-1219) was leader of the Khmers.After the destruction of Angkor by the Cham people, Jayavarman led a successful counter attack and encouraged his people to rebuild Angkor. During his long life he constructed a new temple, the Bayon, to commemorate his Triumphs. The massive stone faces carved on the walls of the temples represent Jayavarman and are also meant to resemble the Buddha.Jayavarman changed the Religion from Hinduism to Buddhism.


Celestial nymphs, always bare-breasted and usually dancing, representing an ideal of female beauty.


Monstrous face without a lower jaw, often found on temple gateways, meant to guard against evil.


Many-headed mythical serpent. The most famous Nagas' in Angkor can be found on the guardrails of each entrance to Angkor Thom.


The neighbouring Siamese (Thai) people attacked Angkor in 1431. This combined with the cost of maintaning monuments, led t the great city decline, and Angkor was abandoned shortly afterwards. Over centuries, jungle vegetation covered the temple, and Angkor became known as the " Lost Capital" . In 1862, it was rediscovered by French naturalist Henri Mouhot.

Modern Cambodia :

Modern Cambodian map

Cambodia was at the forefront of worldwide news in 1975 as Communist Khmer Rouge forces captured the capital city of Phnom Penh, and ordered the evacuation of all cities and towns. Millions of Cambodians were subsequently executed, and many more died from horrible living conditions.

In 1978, a Vietnamese invasion followed by two decades of fighting drove the Khmer Rouge out, and then in 1993, UN-sponsored elections helped restore some level of normalcy. A coalition government, formed after national elections in 1998, brought renewed political stability and the surrender of remaining Khmer Rouge forces in 1998.

The capital city of  Phnom Penh, located where the Bassac, Sab and Mekong rivers merge, is the main entry point into the country for travelers, and most tourists journey to this far-off land specifically to visit the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.

Beautiful 3D Picture of Angkor Wat From

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