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General information, history
Terrace of the Elephants is located almost in the center Angkor Thoma and is adjacent to the Royal Palace. It could be said that this place was the center of the city. The main purpose of the Elephant Terrace was that it acted as a rostrum for the king and his entourage, as well as the honored guests of Angkor Thom, from here they watched the ceremonies, festivals and other mass events held in the Royal Square in the city. According to some reports, there was a royal reception hall in the superstructure to the Terrace.
Dedicated to Buddhism, built in the style Bayon.
The terrace was built at the end of the XII century during the reign of Jayavarman VII (Jayavarman VII, ruled from 1181 to 1220), and was supplemented under subsequent kings. Works on cleaning of the territory were carried out at the beginning of the XX century, restoration works of the Terrace itself – in the 60-70s of the XX century.
The Elephant Terrace makes an indelible impression with its scale and exquisite life-size images of elephants, people, garudas and other characters. Of course, more attention is paid to elephants, that's why the name of the Terrace. Of course, this place deserves a visit.
Orientation, tips for inspection
It takes no more than half an hour to inspect the Terrace.
The Elephant Terrace is located between the Royal Palace and the Royal Square. It has a length of about 300 m and starts from the entrance gopura Bapuona and ends at the Terrace of the Leper King (cm. Elephant Terrace on the map of Angkor). The height of the walls, on average, is 2.5 m.
The main entrance to the Terrace of Elephants is located in the east. It can be reached directly by the road leading through the Victory Gate. In other cases, it is possible to approach the Terrace of Elephants from nearby inspected objects, given the rather advantageous (center) location of the Terrace.
The Elephant Terrace is a very popular place, and therefore, there are always a lot of tourists here, which is why it is somewhat problematic to take photos. A large crowd of people who want to take a "photo for memory" is formed on the upper platform at the northern entrance, against the background of a wall with elephants and bas-reliefs. A very beautiful place.
The time for the best shots is earlier in the morning.
The facade of the Elephant Terrace faces east. You can climb to the Terrace area by one of five staircases (entrances), three of which are larger in size and are the main ones. Bas–reliefs are depicted on the walls along the entire length of the Elephant Terrace, divided into sections by entrance stairs: elephants on the extreme sections, garudas on the central sections. The walls at the base of the stairs themselves are framed by sculptures of three–headed elephants with trunks in the form of columns tearing off lotus bouquets, on top on both sides there are sculptures of lions (not preserved everywhere). Statues of nagas (snakes), representing a kind of parapet (railing), were installed around the perimeter of the upper tier.
The main entrance is exactly in the middle and has two levels. If you climb this staircase, go a little further and deeper, you can find yourself opposite the main entrance to the Royal Palace. The second level of this entrance has a platform where the royal throne was probably placed. The walls at the base of this level are decorated with images of the sacred goose.
The northern part of the Elephant Terrace deserves special attention. The direct entrance here is via stairs from the Terraces of the Leper King. According to scientists, in a wooden superstructure there was a reception hall of the king. On the front side, this part has a composition with a three-headed elephant in the center, two rows of horizontally divided bas-reliefs with people (above) and figures with lion faces (below), two additional stairs, but, unfortunately, they are closed for climbing. On the upper platform there is another wall with sculptures of two three-headed elephants and bas-reliefs of warriors. Apparently, this wall served as a royal rostrum, from behind which the ceremonies were monitored. Behind the rostrum, on a stone platform, there is a stone statue resembling a blooming lotus flower.
On the north wall of the staircase there are images of horses with chariot riders, dancers, elephant drivers. Some images are divided horizontally into several independent paintings, some are the full height of the wall.