Built to honor Vishnu between 800-1100 CE, and believed to be a replica of the home of gods, the ancient Angkor Wat is one of the largest religious temples in the world. Of the five large towers, the central tower is said to represent Mount Meru, where Shiva resides at the center of the world according to Hindu mythology. In all, there are 108 lotus bud shaped towers, a sacred number to both Hindi and Buddhists. More impressive than the structure of the city itself, are over 2,000 divine nymph figures called Asparas decorating the walls and towers.
Among the nymphs are bas-reliefs describing the Hindu legends including the ancient battles (some fought in the sky), the 32 hells, 37 heavens and the creation myth Churning the Sea of Milk. Incredibly, this very large, elaborately constructed temple aligns with the constellation Draco of 10,500 BCE for the spring equinox. Attuned to the sun and moon, further studies have found the bas-relief to function as a marker for the days between winter and summer solstices, opening the door suggesting further hidden cosmological meaning. Over five million tons of sandstone was quarried and transported 25 miles to the temple.
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