The renowned temple of Angkor Wat is one of the most rendered and massive temple complexes in the world. Constructed by King Suryavarman II around the 12th century, the temple holds plenty of secrets and interesting facts which are sure to impress any Cambodia tours enthusiasts.
The Angkor Wat covers more than 400 square kilometers and houses scores of temples, ancient hydraulic systems such as reservoirs and canals, as well as communication routes, making it one of the largest archaeological sites in operation up to date.

1st Secret | A Big Mandala

The entire complex resembles the cosmos according to the Hindu belief and acts as one big mandala. Legend has it that the mythical Mount Meru is the axis of the universe and home of the Gods, which in the Angkor Temple Complex is represented by the five towers located in the center.
The design of Angkor Wat is like a symmetrical mandala with many correspondences in numbers and shapes. For example, there is a total of 108 lotus-shaped towers and over 2000 divine nymph figures (called Apsaras) carved on the walls and towers, all are impressive and carry a sacred meaning. Apart from carvings of the nymph, you can also find intricate bas-reliefs that describe mythical battles, 32 hells, and 37 heavens according to the Hindu belief.Apsaras carved on the wall Angkor Wat

2nd Secret | A Dark History

It seems like almost every ancient masterpiece somehow holds a dark history, Angkor Wat is not an exception. King Suryavarman II, who started the construction of the Angkor Wat, found himself among the list of usurpers after he murdered his own uncle at the age of 14 to overtake the throne.
The king, in an attempt to prove himself to the people, planned a massive and intricate temple that would serve as his gateway to the afterlife. Thousands of Khmer were forced into harsh conditions during labor to build this “heaven on earth”. The cost of construction was also staggering as more than five million tons of sandstone was quarried and transported a long distance to serve the building of the temple complex.Angkor Wat

3rd Secret | A Temple Complex Built By Gods or Giants

Located in the center of Cambodia and hidden in the large, thick jungles that cover the area, Angkor Wat was completely isolated from the Western World until the French colonialists discovered it in the mid-19th century.
The French first heard rumors from the locals about “temples built by gods or giants”. Later on, while having a zoological expedition, French naturalist Henri Mouhot stumbled across the city complex of Angkor Wat and presented this impressive structure to the world.
Overwhelmed by the grand scale and magnificence of the hidden ruins, he compared one of the temples to that of Solomon and stated that the whole complex was grander than any constructions left by Greece or Rome. He compared the experience to that of a person “finding a verdant oasis in the sandy desert.”Khmer Angkor Dinosaur

4th Secret | Sacred Meanings

It was believed that after the death of King Suryavarman II, he would be transmuted into Vishnu, “The Preserver”, to whom Angkor Wat is consecrated. The earthly god Vishnu, the origin of the temple, as described in the world’s oldest religious text – Rig Veda.
The design of Angkor Wat shows the inseparable relationship between Astronomy and Hindu cosmology. Along the four walls of Angkor Wat are mythical scenes that seem to link with four seasons. In the east wall is a scene illustrating the “churning of the sea of milk,” a myth in which the gods attempt to churn the elixir of immortality out of the milk of time, a scene representing the renewal of spring. The scene in the north wall depicts the “day of the gods,” representing the summer. Along the west wall is a great battle scene from the Mahabharata, representing the decline of autumn. Lastly, the south wall portrays the kingdom of Yama, the god of death, a sign of winter.Sacred Meanings of Angkor Wat

5th Secret | It’s All About The Details

The temple complex was left incomplete after the death of King Suryavarman II, but that doesn’t make it less impressive. A peculiarity about Angkor Wat itself is that the Angkor Wat is oriented to the West, unlike most of the other Angkorian temples that face east.
All wall carving was covered with gold leaves. Up until today, you can still see some gold flecks if you look close enough. Recently, about 1796 devote carvings have been restored to look close to its most glorious time.Angkor Wat Guardians