Friday, October 20, 2023

Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas Temple

After exploring Bayon and Baphuon temples, we were nearly ready to find somewhere to cool off and have some lunch, but first, we had to get back to Sophorn and his air conditioned van. Simon lead us on a little loop through the ruins of the outer walls of the the Royal Enclosure, past the Phimeanakas Temple pyramid, a smaller three tier temple with the remains of a gallery on the top tier and out to the main road, through the centre section of the Terrace of the Elephants.

The outer walls of the Royal Enclosure have long since been overgrown by jungle, making for some amazing scenery as you follow the trail through to Phimeanakas Temple.

As much as I really enjoyed the restored temples we saw, seeing these walls, still standing after nearly a thousand years, but now covered in greenery was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

The Royal Enclosure was once home to the Royal Palace although these days there is not much left aside from Phimeanakas Temple and a couple of sandstone pools, but it must have been an amazing site when it was home to the kings of Angkor.

Phimeanakas temple is another of the pyramid style temple, meant to represent an eartly embodiement of Mount Meru. The temple is currently off limits and there are plans to restore some of the upper levels.

Approaching the Terrace of the Elephants from the Royal Enclosure, the terrace was used for public gatherings and royal displays.

View through a missing section of the Royal Enclosure wall to the centre section of the Terrace of the Elephants.

Standing on the Grand Entrance at the Terrace of the Elephants, this gopura served as an entrance to the Royal Enclosure and the Royal Palace.

These stairs lead up to the Grand Entrance part of the Terrace of the Elephants, named for the carvings of the grand elephant parade that adorn most of this 350 metre long terrace. This centre section however, is decorated with garuda and lions and topped with statues of lions and naga.

There was certainly plenty to see here, walking through the jungle, past temple ruins and former palace grounds, and just like so many of the other temples we visited during this trip you can't help but feel that a second, third or fourth visit may be needed to fully explore this area.

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