Angkor Wat Story
History of Angkor Wat
This article will help you understand and learn the Angkor Wat Story. The past history, will help prepare you for exploring this huge temple.
For those that are unable to come to Angkor Wat, this is a mini virtual tour complete with a video interview and photograph of the art and buildings. In the videos you will hear one of the Cambodian Tour Guides which we met at the entrance to the facility.
Hire a Tour Guide if You Can
During a visit to the Angkor Temples there’s an opportunity hire a tour guide for a reasonable fee, they are available at the Temple entrances. Tour guides will help explain the history of Angkor Wat and the Angkor Temples. Guides are also available through some of the guest homes and hotels. There are many things-to-see-at-Angkor-Wat. The bas-relief art, statures, architecture, stone work, and all the different buildings.
Our guide explained some of the Angkor Wat history by interpreting the stone wall carvings. Most of these temples were lost for centuries to the jungle before they were discovered in the 1800’s.
Wall Art and Inscriptions
What we know partially came from inscriptions on the stone walls and columns, as also from the stone drawings on the walls. Both the art and inscriptions help us understand the Story of Angkor Wat. The information also came from other temples with inscriptions that have been deciphered. In the videos below you will notice both the column and walls having information, which are from Angkor Wat.
The art also tells us of their past through stories from the art carvings and bas-reliefs. Exploring the temples on your own or with a guide will help understand the Angkor Wat story and grander of this magnificent temple.
The next video (below) displays not only the art on the wall, but also the length of the hallway is.
Tour Guide Video
In the short video below our guide explains that much of the Angkor Wat story or history. I didn’t realize how many inscriptions he said there were, but after researching, I found there are over 1200 inscriptions in various Angkor Temples. Many are in better shape than this one at Angkor Wat.
Cambodian Tour Guide
Our Cambodian guide seems very knowledgable, but sometimes difficult to understand. Please listen closely and you will experience what it’s like to visit Angkor Wat and learn a little about what happened here between 1113-1150 A.D. Angkor Wat is the dwelling for the gods, not for humans. It has been inhabited since mid 1100’s, it was never abandoned. There are monks that still live here.
This is one of the Seven Wonders of the World! Angkor Wat is thought to be one of the final temples of Khmer architecture.
Short Summary of the Video
To summarize a little of what our guide told us: the long wall of art (pictured below) is a story about a dispute between two kings over one Lady. He also says the story is a long one, and the art along the wall explains the story. The art on the wall extends a long way down the hallway. If we wanted to hear the whole story, he said it would take an hour or two to tell. Don’t worry, the video is only about 3 minutes long and is sample of what you would hear if you were visiting in person.
Down this long hallway are the stories of Angkor Wat (photograph below, video above). This hallway can be found just inside of the main building entrance at Angkor Wat on your right. Notice the ceiling, this is advanced architecturally, ceilings made of stone were not common in much of the world in this time period. Since this is a long hallway, the art on the wall seems like it goes on forever. It’s like reading a story book with one very long page.
Building Angkor Wat?
The technology they used building these temples is something that took the Cambodian people years to achieve. You may hear theories about UFO’s, but a spaceship from Mars did not come here and build these temples in my opinion. There is a progression of technology here, you can see it when you visit the older temples. There are findings of pottery from a Cambodian civilization at about 500 B.C., during an era that show us that they started very simply. When Exploring-Angkor-Temples, if you play close attention to when these temples were built you will notice the advancement in both the architecture and art.
Things-to-do-in-Angkor-Wat includes looking this long hallway of wall of art (below) from the inside of Angkor Wat. These photographs are a closer view from the same hallway as in the hallway photograph just below the video.
Water Enabled the Construction of Angkor Wat
Like any civilization today or in ancient times, water has to be available for a civilization to survive. Egypt had the Nile, Macho Picchu had the Amazon, and Angkor Temples built a reservoir water system for irrigation and other needs. The Ancient Native Americans are thought to have perished because they didn’t have enough water. At one time it was thought that the Angkor Temples had over 1 million people during a time when London had 7,000 people.
Building Angkor Wat Today
As good as our technology is today, I doubt we could build anything like this. This is not just my opinion, but from many people who have come here and have experienced the feeling of how huge these building are and how complex these temples were to build. It’s hard to understand what it’s really like from looking at any photographs. When you spend hours exploring many of the Angkor Temples you notice how heavy and how big each of the stone blocks are. I find myself saying how did they do this back then? There was also an advance irrigation system here where they grew rice, but more on that below, and more in another upcoming articles. The art itself is magnificent here! Angkor Wat was built-in a different time for a different reason, as a place of worship.
More Angkor Wat Wall Art (below), too many to show all of them, but you can get an idea of the treasures that lay within. My first trip to Angkor Wat was spent photographing as many Aspera’s as I could. When I went back I found out there were many I had missed. Large and small, there are hundreds.
Angkor Wat consists of many buildings; you can get lost inside of Angkor Wat because it a maze and its huge.
Those are stairs, no escalator up to the top. This is a holy building and to go up there, they charge an extra fee, and knees and shoulders must be covered. On a hot day, it’s a long ways up, and almost everyday is hot, yet its a popular place for people to see because the view is tremendous.
Hundreds of Aspera’s
Even today there are the Aspera dancers like years before that are dancing like the ones seen carved in stone at many of the Angor Temples.
Hundreds of Divata’s are inside the outside the walls of Angkor Temples, this one is on the outside wall of Angkor Wat, and each and everyone is different from another.
Aspera’s are inside and outside of Angkor Wat, and each and everyone is different for any of the other ones, like the one below. There are thousands of the Aspera Bas Reliefs.
Other things you might want to do, shop for mementos or purchase water and food. The rest rooms are also in this area. Bring alcohol wipes or liquid hand cleaner with you.
The image below is what is thought Angkor Wat looked like right after it was built. Housing units surround the complex and there is some kind of spiral area that no one seems to know what it was. Below is a link to a story about this image from the Cambodian Daily.
How to get to Angkor Wat
To get to the Angkor temples foreigners are not allowed ride motorbikes to the temples. Bicycles are permitted to get to Angkor Wat or the other Angkor Temples. Whatever mode of transportation you decide, buying a ticket is is a must along with wearing the appropriate clothing. Tuk Tuk’s, mini buses, private cars and taxi’s are available from hotels. There are also many Tuk Tuk on the street by the Old Market and Pub street that are eager for business. They will pick you up at your hotel and take you to the Temples and wait while you explore. Arrange this beforehand along with negotiating their fee.
References: Angkor – Marilla, Albanese – wikipedia –
© Thomas Levine Photography