The Dragon's Mirror: The Magic of Angkor Wat II

Part 2

The Architecture

Angkor Wat is located at 13°24′45" N latitude and 103°52′0" E longitude, and it is a unique combination of the “Mountain Temple” classic architecture proper to imperial temples, with the later style of the concentric galleries plan.
The temple is a representation of Mount Meru, the House of the Gods: the quincunx of the central towers symbolizes the five peaks of the mountain, with the walls and pond representing the surrounding mountains and the ocean.

The access to the highest levels of the temple was reserved exclusively to the priests; in fact, lay personalities were allowed only at the lowest level.
Unlike most of the Khmer temples, Angkor Wat is oriented Westward instead of facing the East. This feature led many (including Maurice Glaize and George Coedes) to suggest that Suryavarman II designated the temple as a funerary place.

Further evidence of this can be deduced from the basreliefs, whose chronological order proceeds counterclockwise (prasavya in the Hindu terminology), and therefore contrary to the natural order: the Brahmins’ funerary rituals were indeed conducted in reverse order..
Archaeologist Charles Higham describes also a container found in the central tower, that could have been utilized as a burial urn.

Angkor Wat has been defined by some as the greatest expenditure of human energy for the burial of a corpse. Freeman and Jacques, however, note that many high temples at Angkor are typically oriented eastwards, and suggest that Angkot Wat's orientation to the west should be ascribed to his inspiring god, Vishnu, who was associated with the West.
An alternative interpretation on both the dimensions and the alignment of Angkor Wat has been provided by Eleanor Mannikka, who studied also the arrangement and content of its basreliefs: according to Mannikka, the structure represents the beginning of the peaceful era under King Suryavarman II. Mannikka writes:

"...As the measurements of the sun and the moon’s cycles were built within the sacred space of Angkor Wat, this divine mandate to govern was anchored to the consecrated chambers and corridors, so to perpetuate the king's power and honor (and appease) the deities that manifest themselves in the heavens…"