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Angkor Wat History - A Monument of Cambodian Past, Present and Future

  |   Mekong River

Angkor Wat has occupied 402 acres across some of the worlds most magical surroundings since the ruling of the Khmer Empire. The purpose was clear, originally designed as a Hindu temple dedicate to the god Vishnu. We know this from the orientation of the monument - unlike other operational sites in Southeast Asia, Angkor Wat faces west, a dedication to Vishnu who was associated with the west. Since its first design in the 12th century, Angkor Wat has felt the footsteps of millions.

Angkor Wat History

When Did Angkor Wat Begin? 

Ah, Angkor Wat. Layers of history found in a (once Hindu, now) Buddhist temple. The very essence of the name borrowed from ancient Indian language Sanskrit, with ‘wat’ translating to ‘enclosure’. This religious enclosure was built as the king’s state temple in the main surviving city at the time, noted to be somewhere between 1113 and 1150. Founded by Khmer natives, it was soon taken over by their enemies the Chams, 27 years after the king who declared the construction of Angkor Wat had passed away. Following this, Jayavarman VII  (the new king), restored the empire and built a new capital and state temples of his own to the north of Angkor Wat. Nearing the end of the 12th century, the domain transformed from a Hindu center to a Buddhist worshipping ground. Angkor Wat has since never been completely abandoned, with religious and non-religious folk alike traipsing though the benchmark of Cambodian history. 

More recently, discoveries have been made concerning the inner workings of the temple itself. In just the last nine years, since 2010 over 200 paintings have been unearthed from the chambers. These depictions show elephants, boats, orchestral ensembles and even people riding horses. The past 100 years have seen huge changes for Angkor Wat, with the restoration era beginning in 1908. Work was undertaken mainly in the 1960s for Angkor Wat, seeing another chunk of dedication between 1986 and 1992. Due to natural erosion, around 20% of the structures are deteriorated or damaged in concerning ways. Paying attention to this, countries like China, France and Japan are working rigorously with Angkor Wat conservation programs and UNESCO to restore and maintain this gigantic piece of antiquity, to safeguard the land and secure it as a monument of Cambodian past, present and future. 

Angkor Wat Tours

The Design and Structure of Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat is known for its Khmer architectural style and build. A strong symbol of Cambodia, it exudes the tales of yesterday and welcomes the adventures of tomorrow. Known by most as pillars of up to 213 ft (65 metres) in height constructed of sandstone. A sturdy material called laterite was actually used, which in turn was encased with softer sandstone used to carve the reliefs. A chain of canals were used to transport these blocks from their birthplace in the Kulen Hills, about 18 miles (30 km) to the north. In addition to using canals as a mode of transport, Angkor Wat is actually almost as much about water as it is about earth. Surrounding the best preserved temple in the city is 650-foot-wide (200 metre) moat! This body of waters 13 feet deep (4 metres) and was used tactically as a way to preserve the longevity of the land, ensuring the groundwater level would not rise too high or fall too low. Luckily, this tactic worked to high success as the estate is still largely intact.

Angkor Wat

How Do I Check It Out?

Here at Rainforest Cruises we offer a range of vessels and tours through the Mekong River, with opportunities to explore Angkor Wat in Cambodia, explicitly extended with our Indochine and Indochine II cruises.  With our dedicated expert sales team, we can happily help you organize every detail, giving you all the information you need for your memorable journey to begin. For more information about Angjor Wat’s history or booking a tour, please contact our team to show your interest and see just what we can offer you; send us an enquiry or call 1-888-215-3555

About Rainforest Cruises

Rainforest Cruises is a boutique travel company specializing in Amazon river cruises, Galapagos Islands tours, and Southeast Asia cruises. We provide you with the finest collection of cruises in Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Bolivia, Panama and Southeast Asia. As travel experts we have all the advice you need to help you find and book your dream cruise and an unforgettable adventure.