An imperial hunt in the somber forests of the realm. There are formidable elephants…. The forest in which they travel is impenetrable to all but tiny creatures, able to squeeze their smallness between the fissures of the undergrowth, and to the biggest animals, which crush chasms for the in the virgin vegetation. The elephants are ridden by servants and princes, and tread as quietly as if they were on an excursive promenade. Their steps of even length have no respect for any obstacle.

Location: Royal Plaza of Angkor Thom
Access: from the road at the east
Date: end of the 12th century
King: Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1220)
Religion: Buddhist
Art style: Bayon

BACKGROUND

The Terrace of the Elephants shows evidence of having been rebuilt and added to; and ~t is believed that alterations took place during the reign of Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th or the beginning of the 13th century. It is located directly in front of the east gopura of the Royal Palace enclosure wall.

LAYOUT

The Terrace of the Elephants extends over 300 metres (984 feet) in length from the Baphuon to the Terrace of the Leper King. It has three main platforms and two subsidiary ones. The south stairway is framed with three-headed elephants gathering lotus flowers with their trunks (which form columns). The central stairway is decorated by lions and garudas in bas-reliefs in a stance of support for the stairway.

Several projections above are marked by lions and naga balustrades with garudas flanking the dais. The terrace has two levels: one of which is square and another which has a gaggle of sacred geese carved along its base. It is likely that these platforms originally formed the bases for wooden pavilions which were highlighted with gold.

One of the main attractions of this terrace is the facade decorated with elephants and their riders depicted in profile. Photograph them from the main road then walk up close to get a sense of scale and proportion. ‘All the pachyderms, almost life-size, are magnificent … and the whole effect has an indescribable splendour. The elephants are using their trunks to hunt and fight while tigers claw at them.

HORSE WITH FIVEH EADS

At the northern end of the platform behind the outer wall, a large horse with five heads sculpted in high relief stands on each side at the base of the inner retaining wall. This wall must have been part of an earlier retaining wall for the terrace. The horse is an exceptional piece of sculpture, lively and remarkably worked. It is the horse of a king, as indicated by the tiered umbrellas over his head; it is surrounded by apsaras and menacing demons armed with sticks in pursuit of several people bearing terrified expressions. Some French savants believe this is a representation of Avalokiteshvara in the form of the divine horse Balaha.

Preah Vihear: ‘Mountain of the sacred monastery

Location: 100 kilometres (62 miles) northeast of Siem Reap Access: Tip: Spectacular views of Cambodia and Thailand from the Dangrek Mountains Date: Construction probably began in the late ninth to early tenth centuries and continued in the mid-12th century King: begun by Yasovarman I

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Koh Ker

King Jayavarman IV ‘founded by his own power, a city which was the seat of the prosperities of the universe’. – From an inscription in Lawrence Briggs’  The ancient Khmer emplire, reprint, Bankok, White Lotus, 1999 Location: Approximately 3-4 hours from Siem Reap by Road. Take R

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Beng Mealea: ‘The Lotus Pool’

A trip to Beng Mealea, which in itself demands an entiie day, can be combined with a hunting party, since the region is rich in both small and large game and wild animals: tigers, panthers and elephants, herds of oxen and wild buffalo inhabit the forest as far as Prah Khan of Kampong

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp luxury surpassing that of a pharaoh or a shah Jaham, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. Loc

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Bayon

We stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land. Location: in the centre of the city of Angkor Thom, 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) from the south gate Access: enter from the east Date: late 12th century to early 13th century King: Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1120) Religion:

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Lake Tonle Sap

Lake Tonlé Sap (meaning "Large Fresh Water River," but more commonly translated as "Great Lake") is a combined lake and river system of huge importance to Cambodia. It is the largest freshwater lake in South East Asia and is an ecological hot spot that was designated as a UNESCO biosphere in 1997.

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Terrace of the Elephants

An imperial hunt in the somber forests of the realm. There are formidable elephants…. The forest in which they travel is impenetrable to all but tiny creatures, able to squeeze their smallness between the fissures of the undergrowth, and to the biggest animals, which crush chasm

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Baphuon

North of the Golden Tower [Bayon] … rises the Tower of Bronze [Baphuon], higher even than the Golden Tower: a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base. Location: 200 metres (656 feet) north-west of the Bayon, and south of Phimeanakas Access: enter and

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Phimeanakas: ‘Aerial Palace’

Location: inside the enclosure walls of the Royal Palace Access: walk over the Terrace of Elephants and through the east gopura of the enclosure wall encircling the Royal Palace. You are on the principal access to the temple. Alternatively, follow the pathway between the two

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Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray…. Angkor Thom is not an architectural

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Ta Prohm Temple

Ta Prohm is undoubtedly the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor and should be high on the hit list of every visitor. Its appeal lies in the fact that, unlike the other temples of Angkor, it has been swallowed by the jungle, and looks very much the way most of the temples of Angkor appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Well, that's the

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Phnom Bakeng

Around 400m south of Angkor Thom, the main attraction of Phnom Bakheng is the sunset view of Angkor Wat. Unfortunately, the whole affair has turned into something of a circus, with crowds of tourists ascending the slopes of the hill and jockeying for space once on top. Coming down can be even worse as there is nothing at all in the way of

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Ta Keo Temple

Ta Keo is a stark, undecorated temple that undoubtedly would have been one of the finest of Angkor's structures, had it been finished. Built by Jayavarman V (r 968-1001), it was dedicated to Shiva and was the first Angkorian monument built entirely of sandstone. The summit of the central tower, which is surrounded by four lower towers, is almost 50m high

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