Angkor Wat is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, although it was later attempted to be converted into a Buddhist temple or a Wat by some people. Wat refers to a Buddhist temple or monastery. It was constructed by King Suryavarman II of the Khmer Dynasty. The Khmer Empire’s previous emperors followed the Shaiva religion, but Angkor Wat was dedicated to Vishnu.
Angkor Wat has a canal as its outermost perimeter, which is filled with water and represents the Cosmic Sea, which Hindus believe is the source of creative energy and life. 1.5 million cubic meters (53 million cubic feet) of sand and silt were carried to form the moat around the temple, an operation that would have needed thousands of workers working at once.
Hindu epics and legends such as the Mahabharata, Ramayana, and Samundra Manthan are depicted in many carvings on the walls of Angkor Wat. Many of the carvings were destroyed later in the 14th century, and due to a lack of care for hundreds of years, many have vanished.
The temple complex, which is a superb example of Khmer architecture, has multiple towers and galleries, with the central tower symbolizing the sacred Mount Meru.
The monument was constructed from five to ten million sandstone pieces, each weighing up to 1.5 tons. Angkor is a city that was once the capital of the Khmer Empire. The City of Angkor used more stone than all of Egypt’s pyramids combined.
Shri Vishnu’s statue at the Angkor Wat complex is exceedingly grand and gorgeous. It used to be in the Garbhagriha of the temple, but it is currently under the temple’s southern tower.
There are four Buddha statues in the complex on the four corners or gates of the Central Tower, all of which were plainly put later. The complex appears to be a Buddhist Temple, but anyone can easily tell that these were installed later.
There are various legends and tales surrounding the temple. One legend claims that Lord Indra ordered the construction of Angkor Wat as a palace for his son Precha Ket Mealea. Another legend is that the temple was built in a single night by a divine architect, as reported in Chinese traveller Daguan Zhou’s book.
There is no inscription that mentions the temple’s original name, however it is claimed to have been known as Varah Vishnu Lok.
In 1177, after the death of King Suryavarman II, the Chams, a historic opponent of the Khmer, seized Angkor. The new king, Jayavarman II, constructed a new capital and was devoted to Buddhism, building Angkor Thom, a new temple a few kilometres north of the previous Angkor Wat temple.
Angkor Wat was turned from a Hindu temple to a Buddhist centre of worship until the end of the 12th century, and many Hindu sculptures were replaced by Buddhist art.