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Why Prasat Suor Prat is special ?
The twelve towers known as the 'Prasat Suor Prat' are located just to the east of the Royal Terraces in the vicinity of the Royal Palace. Although the modern name means 'Towers of the Rope Dancers"--referring to the legend that they were used for royal entertainments involving tightrope walkers--there is no definitive evidence for this. In fact, the function of the towers remains a mystery. Intriguingly, Zhou Daguan, the 13th century Chinese diplomat who visited Angkor, recorded that they were used to settle disputes. He wrote:
"If two families have a dispute to resolve and cannot agree on right and wrong, there are twelve small stone towers on a bank opposite the place, and the two people concerned are sent to sit in two of them. Outside, members of each family keep guard against the other. They may site in the towers for a day or two, or for three or four days. Then for sure the one who is in the wrong becomes visibly ill, and leaves." [Trans. by Harris, Peter. A Record of Cambodia, Chapter 14].
What to explore at Prasat Suor Prat?
This account is greeted with suspicion by modern scholars, partly because the towers appear to be shrines of some sort. If so, their design is quite unusual, as each has three windows on the ground floor facing north, east, and south. At no other location do we find Khmer shrines with windows in the main sanctuary. For this reason, some scholars believe the towers may have been used as reception halls for foreign visitors (perhaps accounting for why Zhou Daguan was able to access them). All but two of the towers face the parade ground, and each is elevated on a terrace, which would make them useful for viewing the many large ceremonies conducted to the east of the royal palace. A problem with this theory is that the king's own palace was made of wood (and has long since vanished), making it unlikely that the Khmers would have used high quality stone for guests while leaving their own monarch in a wooden palace.
In any case, the towers are relatively good condition with the majority retaining much of the original appearance. Each is spaced about 25 meters from one another and faces west, apart from the two central towers which face one another across the path leading to the Gate of Victory. The interior of each tower measures 4 x 6 meters, with three large windows providing ample light and air. They were probably built in the early 13th century by Indravarman II or his successor.
How to get to Prasat Suor Prat?
Sour Prat temple is located opposite the Terrace of the Elephants which is located in the Angkor Thom Complex
- Unique structures with a unique usage!
- Interesting sandstone towers”
- 12 identical towers
- Good for photography
- Worth a quick look
Suor Prat Tower Cambodia
Tips for you
A legend about this tower: Apparently one of the kings of the city was seduced by a demon who came to him in the form of a beautiful woman. This demon convinced him to divorce his wife, put her eyes out and lock her in the tower. Because of this legend many of the tuk tuk drivers believe it's bad luck to visit Prasat Suor Prat and this is why you will see them parked a safe distance away from the towers rather than up close. (from KarynJane)Other
These are the 12 towers which line the eastern edge of Angkor Thom. They have a very interesting backstory and apparently there are multiple accounts of what the towers were used for. In my opinion they were used for multiple purposes. We do know for sure, however, that they were used to determine legal disputes as a Chinese merchant wrote an account of this after visiting the city. The story goes that the two people in the dispute were placed in one of the towers and the first one to develop boils was the guilty party. If you can imagine people sitting in these towers for days, in the stifling Cambodian heat, insufficient food and water and no hygiene, is it any wonder that they developed some kind of skin affliction? My tuk tuk driver told me the most fascinating story though. Apparently one of the kings of the city was seduced by a demon who came to him in the form of a beautiful woman. This demon convinced him to divorce his wife, put her eyes out and lock her in the tower. Because of this legend many of the tuk tuk drivers believe it's bad luck to visit Prasat Suor Prat and this is why you will see them parked a safe distance away from the towers rather than up close.