Last week, our school had the opportunity to visit one of the most amazing places in the world: Angkor Wat, the largest religious structure in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was a memorable experience that we will never forget. Here are some highlights of our trip and some interesting facts about this ancient wonder.
Exploring the Temple Complex
Angkor Wat was built in the 12th century by King Suryavarman II as a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu, one of the main gods of Hinduism. The temple is a masterpiece of Khmer architecture, with five central towers representing the peaks of Mount Meru, the mythical home of the gods. The temple walls are covered with exquisite bas-reliefs depicting scenes from Hindu mythology and history, such as the churning of the ocean of milk, the battle of Kurukshetra, and the life of Suryavarman II.
We spent hours admiring the intricate carvings and sculptures, marveling at the skill and devotion of the ancient builders. We also learned that Angkor Wat is oriented to the west, a direction usually associated with death in Hindu culture. Some scholars believe that this was because Suryavarman II intended Angkor Wat to be his funerary temple, where his remains would be deposited after his death.
Discovering the History and Culture of Angkor
Angkor Wat is not the only temple in the area. In fact, it is part of a larger complex of temples and monuments that span over 400 square kilometers. This was once the capital of the Khmer Empire, which ruled most of Southeast Asia from the 9th to the 15th centuries. Angkor was a thriving city with a population of over one million people at its peak, making it one of the largest and most prosperous cities in the world at that time.
Reflecting on Our Journey
Our trip to Angkor Wat was more than just a sightseeing tour. It was also a journey into our own history and identity as Cambodians. We felt proud and inspired by our ancestors’ achievements and legacy, and we also felt grateful for their preservation and restoration by local and international efforts. We realized that Angkor Wat is not only a national treasure, but also a world heritage that belongs to all humanity.