Monday, February 06, 2012

Angkor Thom Gate

Leaving Siem Reap early in the morning, we were ready for another day of temple visiting. Our first destination was the fortified city of Angkor Thom, meaning “Great City.” Spread over a 10 sq km area, it was built by the great Jayavarman VII. Around 200,000 people once lived within the city and around 1 million in the surrounding area during its height. We entered through the South Gate- one of five monumental gates into the city. Surrounded by an 8 m high wall and a moat, 54 gods greeted us one one side of the causeway and an equal number of demons on the other side, portraying the mythical story of the Churning of the Sea of Milk. Many sported lighter-colored heads, indicating that they were not the originals. Some tourists chose to ride through the 20 m high gate on the back of an elephant - quite likely the mode of transport used by the elite back around 1200 AD. A series of carved stone elephant trunks below huge heads could be seen on the gate. 

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