Friday, October 13, 2023

Tonle Om Gate / South Entrance to Angkor Thom

Tonle Om Gate is the southern entrance to the Angkor Thom temple complex. This is the most well known and busiest of the five gates to Angkor Thom. We visited Tonle Om Gate the morning after we had been to Angkor Wat, our first temple visit of the trip. Angkor Thom and its five gates are part of the Angkor Archaeological Park, meaning you'll need your Angkor pass to visit here. We purchased a three day flexi pass for the park, giving us the choice of which three days we would use to explore the area.

As you can see here, this gate is very popular, not only is it the primary way to access Angkor Thom from Siem Reap, it is also the gate which has had the most attention when it comes to restoration and preservation, making it a popular photo stop for tourists and locals alike.

Our Angkor guide, Kea Simon, explaining some of the history of Tonle Om Gate to Mel and Ken. Simon was our guide through all the Angkor temples and was an invaluable asset to us during our stay in Siem Reap.

The 100m causeway across the moat at Tonle Om is flanked by balustrades featuring Devas and Asuras holding the body of a giant Naga serpent.

On the left side of the causeway, the Devas are depicted with happy faces and represent the good in the world. Here we have Mikah and Lori with the Devas of Tonle Om Gate.

The Devas are in constant battle with the Asuras on the right hand side, who are malevolent beings representing all the bad in the world and depicted with grumpy faces and bulging eyes.

The preservation and restoration of these ancient works is a continual project and you can see here the contrast between original and replacement parts of these statues.

Lori doing her best Asura impression at Tonle Om Gate, Angkor Thom.

Tonle Om Gate, Angkor Thom, as seen from the causeway across the moat.

Here you can see the tri-headed elephant, Airvata, below the faces that tower over Tonle Om Gate. The four faces are believed by some to represent Brahma, the creator, although this is not known for certain.

Here is another angle showing Airvata, the tri-headed elephant, which also features in other nearby monuments, such as the Terrace of the Elephants.

Inside Tonle Om Gate are these small chambers, which could have functioned as guard stations at one point.

Once you have passed through Tonle Om Gate, make sure you turn around and appreciate that these gates are works of art on all four sides.

Tonle Om Gate is an amazing place to visit, no matter the time of year, although visiting at the tail end of the wet season, like we did, ensures beautiful green scenery all around. Make sure you take the time to get out and walk through this gate, as it really is awe inspiring. For me, this gate, and the whole Angkor Archaeological Park, is a very highly recommended part of any visit to Siem Reap, and Cambodia in general.

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