Temples overview

Building material

The early Angkor-period temples such as the Hindu temples of Preah Ko, Lolie and Bakong in Rolouos and Prasat Kravan in Angkor, were built in brick, similar to the religious architecture prevailing at the time in India.

Brick was later replaced by laterite, a porous stone that resembles lava rock, for the foundations of the temples; sandstone was used for the walls, such as at Angkor Wat.

Pink sandstone, quarried from the Kulen mountain, 60 kms (36 miles) away, was also used for several Hindu temples; the soft material allowed for the most intricate carvings such as those seen at the Banteay Srei temple.

Khmer architecture

Angkor Wat and Monks
Courtesy : Meeli Tamm, U.K.

The architecture of most of the temples of the pre-Angkor and Angkor periods was based on India’s religious concept of the temple-mountain, which represented the Mount Meru, the abode in the center of the universe of the three supreme Hindu gods (Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu):

  • - a three-tiered structure (3 being a number of high significance in Hinduism)
  • - crowned by five towers (symbolizing the five-peaked Mount Meru),
  • - encircled by enclosure walls (for the mountains around Mount Meru)
  • - and a moat (for the ocean).
  • For more details, please visit Wikipedia’s page on Khmer architecture
  • Details on all the temples of Angkor can be found at the site of the Apsara Authority,
    Cambodia’s Temple Conservation Agency, which provides a wealth of information as well as maps.
  • Wikipedia’s Angkor Wat page is also worth visiting.

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