Angkor Reliefs

Here’s a gallery of the many incredible stone carvings throughout the temple complex. Most depict battles or stories from ancient Hindu & Buddhist texts. The dancing women, called “Apsaras,” are a type of cloud or water spirit that represent different aspects of the performing arts – much like western muses.

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    Angkor Wat, Cambodia

    Angkor Wat is a massive temple complex just north of the Cambodian city of Siem Reap. It was originally built as a Hindu temple devoted to the god Vishnu in the early 12th century. However, by the end of the century it had become (& still remains) a Buddhist site. It was the main temple for the capital city of the Khmer empire at the time. In fact, the word “Angkor” means “capital city” & “Wat” means “temple” in the Khmer language.

    The entire site stretches across more than 400 acres & may be the largest religious site in the world. At the main complex a 15 foot high rectangular stone wall, surrounded by a wide moat, protected over 200 acres inside. Within the walls there was a city, the temple & the emperor’s palace. Since only the walls & the temple were built from stone, they are unfortunately the only structures which remain today.

    The temple was constructed aligned to the four cardinal directions, with the main entrances along the east/west axis. It was designed to represent Mount Meru, believed by both Hindus & Buddhists to be the home of the gods. The five central towers were intended to recreate the five peaks of the sacred mountain, while the walls & moat below represent surrounding mountains & sea.

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