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10 Angkor Wat Facts That will Leave You in Awe

Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temple complex is one of those places that ignites a sense of great curiosity about the distant past of the ancient kingdom of Angkor. At one time the mightiest empire in all of South-East Asia, the Angkor kingdom saw the rise and fall of many rulers. However, what truly withstood the tests of time was the Angkor Wat temple complex.

In today’s times, it is one of the most-visited places in South-East Asia and if you have plans of visiting this legendary destination, then here are 10 Angkor Wat facts that will leave you in awe before you even land in Cambodia.

1. From Hinduism to Buddhism

When the temple complex was constructed, the kingdom of Angkor was a predominantly Hindu kingdom. It marked a change in the Shiva-worshipping Hindu community, as it introduced to the people the worship of Lord Vishnu instead.

Tourists in Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat - A Buddhist Holy Land

However, Hinduism gradually faded from the region, as more and more people began to convert to Buddhism. In time, this temple complex also underwent a religious conversion, being transformed from a holy place for Hindus to being a holy place for Buddhists.

Read More: Thommanon Temple - Hindu Temple    Wat Ounalom - The Heart of Cambodian Buddhism

2. Built to Symbolize One of Hindu Mythology’s Holiest Mountains

The Himalayan mountains have long been a part of Hindu mythology and folklore, and one of the most revered mountains in Hindu mythology is Mount Meru. Situated in the North Indian state of Uttarakhand, the mountain is considered by Hindus to be the abode of three of the holiest Hindu Gods; Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

The temple’s architecture is similar to the shape of Meru Peak, which makes for one of the most astounding Angkor Wat facts.

3. Religious Monuments Don’t Get Any Bigger

There are thousands of humongous religious monuments in the world. However, one of the most well-known Angkor Wat facts is that as far as religious monuments are concerned, they don’t get any bigger than Angkor Wat.

The temple covers a massive area of more than 400 acres. As far as Angkor Wat facts go, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the monument was given the status of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Read More:  Angkor Wat Architecture    Who Built Angkor Wat?

4. The Only Monument to Feature on a National Flag

One of the most awe-inspiring Angkor Wat facts is that it has the honor of being the only monument in the world that finds its proud place on a national flag. The temples of Angkor don’t just feature on the Cambodian national flag; it also features on Cambodian currency (riel).

5. Paint from the Ancient Past

A lot of people don’t know one of the haunting Angkor Wat facts that the temple was once painted. There are still traces of paint on some surfaces. However, most of it is buried firmly in the past.

Ruins of Angkor Wat
Ruins of Angkor Wat

6. Facing the Hindu Direction of Death

This is perhaps the most curious out of all the Angkor Wat facts that the world has uncovered. In Hinduism, the west is seen as the direction of death. Strangely, however, the temple complex faces the west.

While it is curious why a Hindu ruler would build a temple facing the direction that the then-Hindu community associated with death, it’s no surprise that this fact makes Angkor Wat one of the best places to experience the sunset in Cambodia.

7. Constructing the Temple Was a Gargantuan Task

This is hardly one of the surprising Angkor Wat facts. A temple of this size and magnitude sure needed lots of manpower to be built. However, along with the 300,000 men needed to construct it, 6,000 elephants were required as well. It took all of them approximately 35 years to put all the pieces of the temple together.

Read More: Angkor Wat Layout and Plan

8. In the Ancient Times, Angkor Wat Was Considered a City

While we only refer to sizeable metropolises as ‘cities’ these days, back when Angkor Wat was brought to life, a complex the size of Angkor Wat was regarded as a city.

This is one of the Angkor Wat facts that is clearly understandable from the fact that in the local Khmer language, Angkor stands for “city” and Wat stands for “temple grounds”.

Read More: How to Visit Angkor Wat

9. The Reason for More than Half of Cambodia’s Tourist Influx

The Angkor Wat complex of temples is the reason why Cambodia has attracted more than half of its tourists over the decades. While the percentage of tourists keeps growing every year in Cambodia, the proportion between the ones who visit Angkor Wat and the ones who don’t remain the same.

Read More: Why Is Angkor Wat a Wonder of the World

10. You Can Read All about 13th Century Angkor

Having read so much about so many interesting Angkor Wat facts until now, wouldn’t you like to take several paces back in time to know about how Angkor was in the 13th Century?

If you like history and historically significant destinations, then you must read ‘A Record of Cambodia’, a book translated by Peter Harris. The original book, written in Chinese, features accounts of Zhou Daguan, a Chinese emissary who spent a year in Angkor in the late 13th century.

Angkor Wat is a place that will always remain significant. The years may make this ancient place older and older. However, its importance and relevance will never fade or wilt with time.

Read More: Angkor Wat Significance    Angkor Wat History

Visit Angkor Wat and experience the past colliding with the present for an experience that is truly nothing short of jaw-dropping for the one to witness it.