This is the fourth blog post describing our visit to the Angkor area on November 20th and 21st. The first post has two maps of the area which indicate the locations that we visited. It also lists the references that I’ve used to supplement my knowledge of the area, which is extremely limited.
After our group finished going through Bayon, we were ready to retrace our route back to Angkor Wat. Nevertheless, we took some time to look at a few things as we walked back toward our van.
Some of us walked past Baphuon. This temple, though located within the walls of Angkor Thom, was built roughly 150 years earlier than the ‘Great City’. (Jayavarman VII oversaw the construction of Bayon around 1200 CE. Baphuon was built during the reign of Udayadityavarman II at around 1060 CE.) When Ordinary Spouse and I visited ten years ago, the temple was not in good condition and was in the midst of restoration. Today, much of that restoration has been completed. We didn’t take the time to look at the temple up close, but I took two pictures of the entire structure:
Baphuon. I like these two pictures.
Meanwhile, two of my daughters wanted to see the contemporary statue of the Buddha that was located nearby. Youngest Daughter was a bit upset when Ordinary Spouse told she that she couldn’t walk all the way up to the statue, especially since there were supplicants present at the time. (Note YD’s face in the photo.)
It probably didn’t help that the day was getting hot, even though it was only mid-morning. All of my daughters did wonderfully with the walking and hiking that we did, although we had to be sensitive to YD’s energy levels.
After those two stops, we walked for a ways along the Terrace of the Elephants. This 300-meter-long platform may have served as a viewing platform for the king to review his troops or to watch other parades.
The terrace has three main platforms and two smaller ones. Here, my daughters stand at the south stairway that leads up to the terrace. The elephants hold lotus flowers in their trunks, which form the pillars.
Oldest Daughter sits on the terrace.
Youngest Daughter views a carving of an elephant in the midst of battle. Note how it is picking up some animal with its trunk.
Garudas support the terrace as if it were the heavens (and in the process, suggests something about King Jayavarman as he stands on the terrace).
After walking along the terrace, we all gathered again at our van, ready to continue our day at Angkor Wat. There are a series of towers across from the parking area known as ‘Prasat Suor Prat’. I remembered them from our last visit, and although I haven’t explored them, I find them to be visually compelling. Their use is unclear. There is a legend that ropes stretched among the towers allowed acrobats to perform. Another idea suggests that they held the jewels and other treasures of the king. They may have provided lodging for visiting dignitaries, or provided altars for people swearing loyalty oaths to the king.
Perhaps the most interesting explanation for their use is that they provided a means for divine judgement. Two people in a dispute would be forced to sit in a tower for a few days. When they emerged, one person would be in perfect health, while the other would be suffering from some malady. In this way, the gods indicate guilt or innocence.
From here, we all piled into the van for the short trip over to Angkor Wat.
Next up: Angkor Wat