Built to honor Vishnu between 800 to 1,100 CE, and believed to be a replica of the home of gods, the ancient megalithic feat of engineering known as Angkor Wat is one of the largest and most beautiful religious shrines in the world. Five prominent towers draw focus to the temple from a distance and it is the central prang crowning the accomplishment. The middle spire is representing Mount Meru, where Shiva resides at the center of the world in Hindu mythology. A giant moat surrounds the entire site as reference to the oceans and seas.
There are 108 lotus bud shaped towers, a sacred number to both Hindi and Buddhists. Equally as impressive as the temple's structure are the prang details, numerous statues, and over two thousand divine nymph figures called Asparas decorating the walls and towers. A prang is an ornately decorated spire which narrows as the structure becomes taller. However, what makes sets Angkor Wat apart from similar shaped shrines is the fact that all prangs, walls, ceilings, pillars, and tiles are decorated with exceptional detail.
Among the nymph figures are several bas-reliefs meticulously describing Hindu legends including the ancient battles, some of which were fought in the sky. Additional legends include thirty-two hells, thirty-seven heavens, and the creation myth named Churning the Sea of Milk. From an astronomical perspective, this very large and elaborately constructed temple aligns to the constellation Draco of 10,500 BCE for spring equinox which demonstrates influences of the stars and heavens above.
Further celestial influence at Angkor Wat is found in the sacred space which is attuned to cycles of the sun and moon. Additional studies have found the bas-relief to function as a marker for the days between winter and summer solstices, opening a gateway to further hidden cosmological meaning. Over five million tons of sandstone was quarried and transported twenty-five miles along a canal from Mount Kulen to build Angkor Wat. It is estimated the complete construction would've taken thousands of workers almost thirty years of quarrying, transporting, carving, and placing the sandstone blocks.
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