Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Built by Khmer civilization in 12th century, Angkor Wat temple is one of the world’s astonishing destinations. The modern name, Angkor Wat, means “Temple City” or “City of Temples” in Khmer. Some rank it among the seven wonders of the world. It appears on the Cambodian national flag, a very rare instance of a flag incorporating an image of a building.

Angkor Wat is the largest Hindu temple complex in the world. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious center since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then invaders turned it into Buddhist. Conventional theories presume the lands where Angkor stands were chosen as a settlement site because of their strategic military position and agricultural potential. Alternative scholars, however, believe the geographical location of the Angkor complex and the arrangement of its temples was based on a planet-spanning sacred geography from archaic times.

The temple is a powerful symbol of Cambodia, and is a source of great national pride that has factored into Cambodia’s diplomatic relations with France, the United States and its neighbour Thailand. Consisting of an enormous temple symbolizing the mythic Mt. Meru, its five inter-nested rectangular walls and moats represent chains of mountains and the cosmic ocean.

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