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The Religious Structures Of Angkor Wat Temple

1439 words - 6 pages

Angkor Wat is said to be one of the largest religious monuments ever constructed. The temple was created to resemble heaven on earth, and honored the god Vishnu. Most of the structure represent mythological places in the Hindu religion. Suryavarman II wanted to create something that would represent that he was a god walking amongst humans. By building this large temple, he would achieve being directly sent into the heavens to be with the gods, specifically the god Vishnu. Suryavarman II believed that by building this temple, it would show his power as a king as well as reproduce the world of the gods.
At the center of the temple, there stand five towers. These towers were meant to symbolize the five peaks of Mount Meru, where the gods were said to have lived. They call this part of the temple "the temple mountain." "The mountain temple of Angkor reminds us that the same concern with architectural beauty and the same concern with producing a building that reflected the cosmology of their religion was exhibited by the builders of Angkor." (McGee). The temple mountain was a place of worship, and might have been the final resting place for Suryavarman II's ashes.
The temple of Angkor Wat faces west, which in the Hindu religion is associated with the god Vishnu and death. Researchers believe that this was symbolic of gateway to the afterlife for Suryavarman II. Suryavarman II wanted the temple completed before his death so that, he too, could join the gods in heaven. The temple is on a massive 500 acres of land, and is surrounded by a massive moat. The moat is also symbolic of the vast oceans of the universe. Researchers are still puzzled as to how they built this temple in 32 years.
"Angkor Wat, like many Hindu and Buddhist Southeast Asian temples, was designed as a “mandala,” a geometric design of a perfected world usually with square nested walls and passages leading past deity images towards a high central tower." ( Freeman). Mandalas are used in both Hinduism and Buddhism, as a way to connect us to the infinite that is beyond our bodies as well as within. Researchers in the publication Astronomy and Cosmology at Angkor Wat, suggests that the way the temple was aligned was to follow the sun moon and stars. Similar to what the Aztecs had accomplished in their temples.
Mandalas, were an important part of how Angkor Wat was built. The reason for this was that the Khmer believed that certain mandalas would symbolically anchor the gods to the temple itself. As one would look at the floor plans of the temple, the five towers are perfectly aligned in a mandala that symbolized heaven, helping to anchor the gods to the temple as well as gain their favor.
In the center of the temple was an offering of white sapphires and gold, which symbolized the sun and the moon. Above the offering, a shaft was constructed.
In addition to building the temples in the shape of a mandala, architects built them in measurements that resembled...

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