Unknown to many, Cambodia was under the rule of France for a period of 90 years from 1863 to 1953. Their liberation finally came on 9 Nov 1953 when its then-King Norodom Sihanouk has successfully fought through tribulations to gain independence from the French colonial rule. Not only their independence is widely celebrated on every 9th Nov, but Cambodia is also home to one of the most popular UNESCO monument sites in the world – Angkor Wat that they can be proud of.
History of Angkor Wat
Angkor can be referred to as the capital city in the ancient Khmer language and Wat is the meaning of a temple. Located in the city of Siem Reap in modern Cambodia, the remains of Angkor Wat continue to dazzle people from over the world with its unique architecture and sandstone crafting. Originally built as a Hindu temple by King Suryavarman II in the 12th century that covers almost 40 acres are ways to demonstrate its extraordinary wealth (sandstone was an expensive material at that time of construction), and king’s devotion towards Hindusim. Construction of Angkor Wat is believed to be spanned across three decades.
Despite the troubled civil war in 1970s, Angkor Wat managed to escape unscathed but with damages to its external wall. This feat is contrary to the common practice of having temples orientation facing the East, as Angkor Wat was built facing to the West where it is associated sunset that symbolizes death. However, restoration efforts are ongoing by the government and international community to relive the glory days of Angkor Wat due to forestation overgrowth and earthquake damages suffered in the early days.
If you have taken a closer look at the national flag of Cambodia, it depicts the image of Angkor Wat in the middle region that symbolizes justice, heritage, and integrity. It is one of the four nations beside Spain, Portugal, and Afghanistan in the world that utilize an infrastructure icon at the center stage of their national flag. The significance of Angkor Wat’s in the country is a clear national pride and weighs greatly in the hearts of many Cambodians.
Understanding the history of country and beliefs is a good platform to bridge international differences and encourage cohesive collboration works to be done in the future.