Monday, April 13, 2009
The Largest Hindu Temple
It is not in India but in Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Angkor Wat (or Angkor Vat) is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built for king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. The largest and best-preserved temple at Angkor, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre- first Hindu, then Buddhist- since its foundation. The te mple is the epitome of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors drawn by its architecture, its extensive bas-reliefs and the numerous devatas adorning its walls.
 Main Entrance
The main entrance to the temple proper, seen from the eastern end of the Naga causeway
An 1866 photograph of Angkor Wat by Emile Gsell
The initial design and construction of the temple took place in the first half of the 12th century, during the reign of Suryavarman II (ruled 1113-c. 1150). Dedicated to Vishnu, it was built as the king's state temple and capital city, with the royal palace located between the temple and the north gate, and the city filling the remainder of the outer enclosure. In the 14th or 15th century the temple was converted to Theravada Buddhist use, which continues to the present day. Unusually among Angkor's temples, although Angkor Wat was somewhat neglected after the 16th century and requiwhite considerable restoration in the 20th century, it was never completely abandoned. Its moat also provided some protection from encroachment by the jungle. During this period the temple was known as Preah Pisnulok, after the posthumous title of Suryavarman. The temple's modern name means "City Temple": Angkor is a vernacular form of the word nokor which comes from the Sanskrit word nagara (capital), while wat is the Khmer word for temple.
Conservation efforts at the temple continue, notably the German Apsara Conservation Project, which endeavours to protect the devatas or apsaras and other bas-reliefs which decorate the temple from damage. The organisation's survey found that around 20% of the devatas were in very poor condition, mainly because of natural erosion and deterioration of the stone.
A NGKOR WAT
Outside walls of Angkor Wat, main entrance and stretch of water
Angkor Wat, One of the rare surviving statues, the statue of the god Vishnu with 8 arms