The Apsaras of Angkor Wat

The Apsaras of Angkor Wat

More than 1,500 apsaras decorate the Angkor Wat in Siem Reap, Cambodia. These stone carvings are spirits of the clouds and water. In Buddhist and Hindu mythology the celestial dancers come down to earth to entertain Gods and kings. The celestial maiden also protects the Gods and kings with their beauty by seducing mortals who are considered threats to them. And no one, man or divine creature, could resist an apsara or their charms.

Even though there are so many apsara dancers in the Angkor Wat, each dancer is unique - the curl of a hand, hair, jewelry, or angle of their body - is never repeated. Some statues stand straight and those are called Devatas, the temple guardians.

Modern-day Apsara Dancers

In Cambodian culture, an apsara is a form of Cambodian dance. Apsara dancing uses slow movements that are meant to embody the hypnotic nature of the apsara. Starting at a young age, girls learn the Khmer classical dance which is composed of intricate hand gestures and footwork that make them appear to float on air. There are many cultural shows that perform the apsara dance in Siem Reap and around Cambodia so visitors can watch apsara dancers in full costumes and appreciate another Cambodian art form.

Why visit the Angkor Wat?

The best time to visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the sprawling remains of the Khmer empire is during sunrise. The warm sunlight lends a magical feel to the Angkor Wat temple. There is so much light, shade, and a sheer number of apsaras to snap a picture of for photographers.

The massive Angkor temple complex is quite impressive to see in person. It goes without saying that a visit to Siem Reap will include the Angkor Wat complex and its many temples - Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, among others. The bigger-than-life statues, bas-reliefs, and structures show a segment of Khmer classical architecture and history.

So even if you just one day to tour Siem Reap or plan to explore every single temple, the apsaras will surely enchant you in one way or another.