One of the largest religious constructions on the planet, the twelfth-century temple of Angkor Wat is covered with outstanding carvings that form the longest bas-relief. It was a part of an enormous building of religious and administrative buildings constructed between the ninth and the fifteenth centuries by the Khmer empire, which dominated most of Southeast Asia. The temple is an earthly representation of the Hindu cosmos. Its five towers, formed like lotus buds, type a pyramidal construction symbolizing the legendary Mount Meru, residence of the gods. The exterior partitions symbolize the edge of the world, and the moats, the cosmic ocean. Devoted to Vishnu, the temple was constructed for the god- king Suryavarman II (1113-50), most likely as a enjoyable erary monument. It faces west, toward the setting Sun, a symbol of death.
Angkor Wat is covered with 12,917 sq ft ( 1 ,2 00 sq m) of beautiful carved scenes that depict Khmer myths, Angkorian warfare, and tales from profound Hindu mythological epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. Divided into eight sections, a few of the most celebrated panels include the Battle of Kuruksetra in the West Gallery, the Churning of the Ocean of Milk within the East Gallery, and the Judgment of Jama within the South Gallery
The last great king of Angkor was Jayavarman VII ( 1181-1220). He founded the town of Angkor Thom, near Angkor Wat, the place he constructed the Bayon Temple, amongst many others. This formidable temple-constructing program most likely depleted the kingdom’s coffers, as did wars with neighboring Siam and Champa (Vietnam). Little is known concerning the kings that succeeded him, however in 1432, the Siamese sacked Angkor and the final king, Ponhea Yat, was pressured to move south toward Phnom Penh, the modern-day capital of Cambodia. Though Angkor Wat remained a holy place, the Khmer
empire subsequently went into decline and many of the temples had been abandoned, step by step changing into – jungle.
Although the ruins of Angkor Wat had been chronicled by various foreigners, their rediscovery was attributed to Henri Mouhot, a Frenchman touring under the auspices of Britain’s Royal Geographical Society in 1860. Botanist, Mouhot spent three weeks among the ruins, surveying and drawing the tempies. He wrote lyrical account of his work in his diaries, which have been printed after his loss of life from malaria in 1861. His descriptions impressed quite a few travelers – Scottish photographer John Thomson, who took the first black-and-white pictures of Angkor in 1866.