According to an ancient Sanskrit inscription, Cambodia was born from the water. Being the oldest Indianised state in Southeast Asia, its religion was Hinduism. Cambodia boasts the largest temple complex in the world, named Ankor, from the Sanskrit meaning “the capital city”.
It was built in the ninth century C. E. in honor of the Hindu god Lord Vishnu. The complex extends over an area more than twice the size of Manhattan and took thirty-seven years to complete.
Angkor Wat was dramatically rediscovered in 1860 by the French naturalist and explorer Henri Mouhot, 1826 -1861) a French naturalist and explorer, who exclaimed:
“It is grander than anything left us by Greece or Rome.”
“At the sight of this temple, one feels one’s spirit crushed, one’s imagination surpassed. One looks, one admires, and, seized with respect, one is silent. For where are the words to praise a work of art that may not have its equal anywhere on the globe? … What genius this Michalangelo of the East had, that he was capable of concaving such a work.”
(source: Le Tour du Monde 2-1863-299).
He was staggered by his discovery. There was a city so vast and so sophisticated that it must have been built by people with an advanced knowledge of engineering, science, mathematics and art. The young Frenchman soon sent word back to Europe telling of the most beautiful lost city ever to be discovered. The monumental scale, grandeur and beauty of Angkor justifies its reputation as one of the world’s great creations.
Mouhot wrote: What strikes the observer with not less admiration than the grandeur, regularity, and beauty of these majestic buildings, is the immense size and prodigious number of the blocks of stone of which they are constructed. In this temple alone are as many as 1532 columns. What means of transport, what a multitude of workmen, must this have required, seeing that the mountain out of which the stone was hewn is thirty miles distant!….”
(source: Angkor: Heart of an Asian Empire – By Bruno Dagens p. 140 -141).