A Heavenly Temple Dedicated to Hindu God Vishnu

by Alexis Cherry, age 16

Back in the 12th century, the Cambodian godking Suyarvarman II constructed an enormous temple he named as Angkor Wat. Today, the temple is still one of the world’s most stunning specimens of Hindu architecture.

Not only did Suyarvarman create Angkor Wat as a tribute to the Hindu god Vishnu, but in a way, he also built this sanctuary for himself. The dictators of the 10th-13th century A.D. believed they were all reincarnations of Vishnu. Angkor Wat was constructed to be heavenly place where the spirit of the god- king could roam.

With its massive reservoirs and a moat that encircles the enormous palace, Angkor Wat is an impressive 83,610 square meters. It also has a large outer wall which encloses the entire temple. Inside the temple are intricate stone carvings illustrating aspects of Hindu epics: gods and goddesses cavorting in amatory poses, and figures from Khmer history marching in parade formations for hundreds of meters.

Both Buddhist and Hindu elements influence Khmer art. Traces of this type of art can also be found in Angkor Thom, which is a nearby city built for Jayarvarman VII.

Angkor Wat was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, and is now visited by approximately fifteen million people every year. This temple is a timeless work of art and is a monumental part of Buddhist and Hindu history today.

[Sources: 100 Great Wonders of the World; CambodianEmbassy.org]

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