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Why Angkor Thom is special ?
What to explore at Angkor Thom?
CAUSEWAY WITH STONE FIGURES
A long causeway leading to each entry tower is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side – demons on the right and gods on the left-to make a total of 108 mythical beings guarding the city of Angkor Thom. The demons have a grimacing expression and wear a military headdress whereas the gods look serene with their almond-shaped eyes and wear a conical headdress. (Some of the heads on these figures are copies; the original ones have been removed and are at the Angkor Conservancy in Siem Reap).
A serpent spreads its nine heads in the shape of a fan at the beginning of the causeway. Its body extends the length of the causeway and is held by the gods and demons forming a serpent-like railing. It may symbolize the rainbow uniting the worlds of man and the gods. This representation is reinforced by the presence of Indra.
A small sandstone temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara occupies each corner of the wall enclosing the city of Angkor Thom. An inscription at the temple names Jayavarman VII as the builder and gives the charter of the foundation of the wall and moat of the city. Each temple is in the shape of a cross opens to the east with a porch on each side, and is crowned with a lotus-shaped top. Abase with two tiers supports the temple. Female figures in niches and false windows typical of the period decorate the exterior. The upper half of the window is sealed with laterite blocks in emulation of an awning; the lower half contains balusters.
Through here all comers to the city had to pass, and in honor of this function it has been built in a style grandiose and elegant, forming a whole, incomparable in its strength and expression.
The five entry towers are among the most photographed of all the ancient Cambodian ruins. Each sandstone tower rises 23 meters (75 feet) to the sky and is crowned with four heads, one facing each cardinal direction. The faces may represent the rulers of the four cardinal points at the summit of mount Meru.
The lower half of each gate is modeled like an elephant with three heads. Their trunks, which serve as pillars, are plucking lotus flowers. The Hindu god Indra sits at the center of the elephant with an Apsara on each side. He holds a thunderbolt in his lower left hand.
Looking through the tower one can see a corbel arch, a hallmark of Khmer architecture. Inside, wooden crossbeams are visible and a sentry box stands on each side.
- Heritage at it's best
- Amazing feat of 12th century construction
- The pick of the temples
- One for the 'must see' list
- A Great Ruin and so Photograpical!
Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Tips for you
The South Gate is so amazing that triggers a lot of imaginations.
Pay no more than 1usd for 2 cans of coke.
Be sure to check out Bayon Temple & take the compulsory 'Nose-touching-with-Buddha' photos.
Some of the missing statue heads can be found in the national museum!
Simply incredible - a must visit in Cambodia. Better than Angkor Wat in my opinion
I actually rate this better than Angkor Wat. You can climb it. It's bigger and you get the feel more. Remember if you come across a lady or man near the middle with a buddha statue with insense or a friendship bracelet they are wanting money and need to pray to Buddha. 1$ is cool. Just pretend.
Again this temple was mid morning to avoid the crowds. But it starts to get busy as people come from sunrise and the early AM around Ankor Wat.
One of the best places to see. If have few days, besides Angkor Wat, it is the second place you can not miss.
This is by far, one of my favourites.Its name means Big Angkor and measures three km squared ,walled and moated royal city. There are five gates to the city,one for each cardinal point and the victory gate leading to the royal palace area. Each gate is crowned with four giant faces,that resemble a girlfriend of mine. the south gate is often the first stop on a tour,so pick late afternoon or dawn to capture a people-free photo gem. You can spend hours getting intimate with the details that abound .
The place is so big with lots of temples. You can go on a half-day tour or spend the whole day here. Be prepared for a lot of walking as the temples are spaces a bit far from each other.