If you consider yourself a film buff, then you probably recall Angelina Jolie in her iconic role as Lara Croft swinging through ropes and getting into all sorts of scrapes, set in such gorgeous location. Or if you are fan of famed Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai, his most famous movie, “In the Mood for Love” had its penultimate scene shot in ruins as well.
The location shoot for those two movies were both done in Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Angkor Wat’s magnificence and impressiveness surpasses that of the pyramids of the Pharaoh or the Taj Mahal of Shah Jahan. Angkor Wat is located about six kilometres north of Siem Reap, which is a popular resort town and at the same time, serves as a gateway to the Angkor Wat region.
Built between A.D. 1113 and 1150, and encompassing an area of 500 acres, Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious monuments ever. Its name literally means “temple city.”
Originally, it was built as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu, but later on it was converted into a Buddhist temple in the 14th century, and Buddha statues were added to its already rich structures.
The 213-foot-tall central tower is surrounded by four other smaller towers, a layout that is similar to that of the fictional Mount Meru, believed to be the home of the gods in Hindu mythology.
Although Angkor Wat was originally dedicated to Vishnu, the original purpose of the temple is still being widely debated. One issue was that if the ashes of Suryavarman II were indeed interred in the monument, then that would mean that the temple was used as a grave site. Bas-reliefs at Angkor Wat read counter clockwise, which is another indication that the temple is associated with funeral rituals.
In 1992, Angkor Wat was made into a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site suffered from decades of unregulated tourism and looting; many statues have been decapitated and heads were sold to private collectors for huge profits. A collaborative effort by the international community has helped its restoration to its former glory.
Interested already? 🙂