When Was Angkor Wat Built?

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The beauty of Northern Cambodia is enhanced with the presence of a famous colossal Buddhist temple known as Angkor Wat. It is spread across more than 400 acres and is known as the largest religious monument in the world. This historical temple is located roughly five miles from Siem Reap city, a city that houses almost 200,000 people in the north of modern Cambodia. When was Angkor Wat built?

The Construction of Angkor Wat

Renowned legends say that Angkor Wat was ordered for construction by Indra to serve as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea. However, going by the beliefs of the 13th-century Chinese traveler Zhou Daguan, some believed an excellent architect built the temple just in a single night.

Galleried Temple in Angkor Wat
Galleried Temple in Angkor Wat


Temple Mountain of Angkor Wat
Temple Mountain of Angkor Wat


The first half of the 12th century, when Angkor Wat was built, went for the initial design and the construction of the temple. This took place during the reign of Suryavarman II, who ruled between 1113 – c. 1150. This temple was dedicated to Lord Vishnu but was also the king's state temple and capital city.

The original name was thought to be known as ‘Varah Vishnu-Lok’ after the presiding deity. Since there is no foundation stela and contemporary inscriptions proved, so the original name remains unknown. The construction of some of the bas-relief decoration was unfinished due to the death of the emperor Suryavarman II.  

Angkor Wat is the amalgamation of two basic styles of Khmer temple architecture: the galleried temple and the temple mountain. If we focus on the building orientation of the Angkor Wat temple, then we will notice that it is west oriented. This gives rise to two beliefs. One segment of priests believes that west-facing Angkor Wat values the blessings of Lord Vishnu. West is the direction that Lord Vishnu prefers. Another segment believes that the west is the direction of death. Hence, Angkor Wat has been the tomb of King Suryavarman II.

Approximately 27 years after the death of the emperor Suryavarman II, in 1177, the traditional enemies of the Khmer, the Chams, sacked the Angkor Wat. The empire was then restored by a new king, Jayavarman VII, who established a new capital, Angkor Thom, and the state temple the Bayon a few kilometers to the north.

Read More: Angkor Wat Significance - Why Is It Important


When was Angkor Wat Built? (The Initial Stage)

•  In the first half of the 12th century, Angkor Wat, the place of spirituality, was initially built as a Hindu temple by Khmer King Suryavarman II. He dedicated this temple to the Hindu god Vishnu.

•  Angkor Wat differed from the then-popular Shaiva tradition.

•  At that time, it served as the state temple of the Khmer Empire.

•  Later on, by the end of the 12th century, Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple.

•  Angkor Wat’s name was translated to ‘capital city temple’ as ‘Angko’ means ‘capital city’ in the Khmer language, while the word ‘Wat’ means ‘temple.’  The fact that Emperor Suryavarman II built Angkor Wat was referenced by its built.

•  It was also serving as the capital of the Khmer empire and also used as the state temple and political center of Emperor Suryavarman II's empire, who ruled the region from 1113 to 1150.


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