Khmer Temples & Mythology

Angkor Wat



This temple was built during the first half of the 12th century by King Suryavarman II in the Southeast quadrant of the old Angkor city of Suryavarman I. It was dedicated to Vishnu, and perhaps because it was also a funerary temple, the main door opens to the West. It has four enclosure galleries, the third of which, together with the two Western corner pavilions, are decorated with the famous narrative reliefs.

It is the most magnificent example of Khmer classical architecture and the largest religious monument in the world. It was constructed, as a matter of practical necessity, from the central sanctuary outward and downward, and perhaps the western entrances received early attention. The carving of the relief panels of the galleries of the third enclosure was probably begun near the end of the king's reign, possibly as late as 1140, and some reliefs were left unfinished in various details others were not even started, In fact, the reliefs of the north-eastern quadrant were completed in the 16th century, probably on the basis of pre-existing sketches. They lack the creativity of their earlier counterparts, and are crudely carved. The larger figures, particularly those of Vishnu and Garuda, were better sculpted than the smaller, which were more summarily executed as 'fillers' for the blank spaces.