Angkor Wat: A numbers game

By Frances Micklow

Today two Americans and one Cambodian tour guide explored one of the 10 man-made, travel wonders of the world.

The outside wall of the temple is lined with statues of seven dragons. They represent the seven days of the week, the seven colors of the rainbow, and offer protection to the temple.

Inside the wall, there were originally nine towers. Only five now remain. The three tallest stand to represent the three main gods of the Hindu religion. The middle, tallest tower represents Vishnu, the preserver and protector of creation and who the temple is dedicated to, while the other two represent the gods Shiva and Brahma.

As we wandered through the rooms and corridors of the temple, everything seemed to be categorised into numbers. Four water chambers to represent the four holy rivers. Three levels of the carving to represent the layers of heaven, earth, and the hell. Two flying lions believed in hindu mythology to hold up the heavens. Seven lower towers to represent the seven mythological mountains inhabited my the three main gods.

Numbers are important to the Cambodian people, especially numbers they consider lucky. The number 33 is considered lucky because it is believed to dial heaven. Lunh, our tour guide, says that many people in Cambodia will pay lots of money to get a phone number ending in a lucky number.

After today, there is one more person who knows a lot more information and has a lot more appreciation about a temple that was 37 years in the making.

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