Angkor ’08 Day One 19/11/08 – Terrace of Elephants


DAY ONE 19 Nov ’08 (Wed) – contd.
(previous – South Gate, Bayon)

After the long hours (2.5h) spent at the Bayon where we were walked away in awe… and a good lunch to acquaint ourselves with the local Khmer food (and we luv it!) it’s time to hit the roads again.

We run the risk of missing our schedule – and it’s just Day One, duh! From neu’s original plan, we’d meant to complete Angkor Thom visits by today. South Gate and Bayon were supposed to be completed in time for lunch, and that would be around 1pm. Hmm…. we’d our lunch at 2.30 pm. šŸ˜›

The first post-lunch visit on Day One was to the Terrace of Elephants, a longish terrace of about 300 m in length located just north of the Bayon, and overlooking the long road from the north of the Bayon to the North Gate of Angkor Thom.

This site was the royal reception pavilion during the era of King Jayavarman VII, overlooking out into the Royal Square of Angkor Thom. It has three main platforms and two subsidiary ones on the other (west) side of the terrace. The terrace forms a “W” overlooking into the Royal Square (ie where the access road from the Bayon to the North Road now lies).

Terrace of Elephants
You can see the “W” shape of the terrace from the picture above. This is also the view of the terrace as you approaches from the North Gate of Angkor Thom. You will reach the Bayon by following the road at the top left of this picture.

Terrace of Elephants
The large empty space in front of the terrace used to be the Royal Square.

Across the road (Royal Square), the Terrace of Elephants overlook the 12 towers of Suot Prat Towers (see below), and also both the North and South Kleangs.

Terrace of Elephants
The space in front of the Terrace was the Royal Square and it overlooks the twelve shrines of the Suor Prat Towers.

Both the north and south primary platforms are flanked on both sides by a three-headed elephant (Airavatta) with each of its trunks fetching lotus flowers. These are the same elephant statues you can see at the South Gate.

South Platform - Terrace of Elephants
The primary platforms on each end are flanked by Airavatta, the three-headed elephants

Terrace of Elephants
A closer look at the three-headed elephants. Here you can clearly see its trunks carrying the lotus flowers.

The central platform has the same Airavatta statue but is also decorated by alternating lions & garudas statues on each side of the wall, raising their arms to support the platform.

Elephants & Garudas at Terrace of Elephants
The central platform is flanked by Airavatta but there’s a line of alternating lion-headed figures and garudas along both side of its walls.

Garudas - Terrace of Elephants
The line of alternating garudas and lion-headed figures along each side of the central platform

Garuda at Terrace of Elephants
Lion-headed figures at Terrace of Elephants
Lion-headed figures

neu at Terrace of Elephants

The walls of the terrace are 3m tall and on them, sits the platform which is fenced by the body of the Naga in the form of balustrades.

Terrace of Elephants
Imagine that kings and royal families once walked on these terraces…

There is a gopura on the western side of the Terrace of the Elephants that leads to the Royal Palace and Phimeanakas, both of which we are to visit today but in a later sequence (ie. after doing the Terrace of the Leper King, Tep Pranam and Preah Palilay).

Terrace of Elephants
The western exit from the Terrace of Elephants; you can see the courtyard of the Royal Palace (rails) in the background

Terrace of Elephants
The gopura that leads you to the Royal Palace and Phimeanakas

The Terrace of Elephants also contains a fairly large collection of bas reliefs…towards the northen end of the terrace.

Terrace of Elephants
Various sculptures of apsara dancers though some of them seemed to be incomplete

Terrace of Elephants
The mythical five-headed horse found in the inner walls of the terrace

Terrace of Elephants
This sculpture of an elephant – for hunting or war? – looks to be abandoned.

Terrace of Elephants
A group of men playing polo on horses? Another incomplete bas relief

Terrace of Elephants
This looks like another sports relief; of a group of men playing something like rugby

We also met a group of children here; firstly it was a group of about 5 kids… who would happily posed for photographs for you and then asked you for small change as tips. šŸ™‚

Children at the Terrace of Elephants

Later one of the older boy (below) joined us on his own and started getting friendly with shrapnel. He followed us to the Terrace of the Leper King and Tep Pranam, all the while keeping us informed with some local updates. Obviously he got his rewards with the sweets handed out by chengyee.

Terrace of Elephants

We spent about an hour touring this huge terrace. It was already 4pm by the time we were done with this site. Good news was that the next site – Terrace of the Leper King – is only 10m away from this site. Bad news was that we still have about 5-6 more sites in Angkor Thom to complete for today.

Are we able to complete the rest of the Angkor Thom sites for Day One? Don’t miss out on my next blog entry on the rest of the sites we managed to squeeze into the 1st day of our itinerary.

Next up from the Angkor ’08 trip – Day One of Temple Visits starting with the Terrace of the Leper King.

Day 1 Collection Mosaic

PHOTO SETS of Day One at Flickr:

Angkor ’08 collection of over 2,300 photos at Flickr.

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