Inside the citadel of Angkor Thom we can find the so called Royal Terraces. The Royal Terraces are composed by the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. These spaces are called the royal terraces because they are in front of the the area that is assumed to be the residence of the king or, the royal palace. The idea is that the King used the platforms of the terraces to make his public appearances to the people of his kingdom.
The Terrace of the ElephantsThe walls of this terrace depict unique images of hunting men over elephants (that’s why the name of the terrace). Normally, when elephants appear in Angkor’s bas-reliefs, they are represented as part of war scenes, this is the reason for which the scenes in the terrace of the elephants are unique, because they allow to picture the elephants (and Angkor people) in a context different than a war. The terrace is not very long but it has interesting figures, specially at the end of the north section.
The Terrace of the Leper King
Just after the end of the north part of the terrace of the elephants, you will find the so called terrace of the leper king. It is not clear which was the real purpose of this terrace and the name is related to a legend associated with a statue discovered on this terrace: “When the statue was first discovered, it had massive discoloration and moss growing on it resembling a person with leprosy. The statue was formerly thought to represent a legendary “leper king”, but is now considered to represent Yama – the Lord of the Dead. People believe the terrace itself might have functioned as a royal cremation platform.” (from: Terrace of the Leper King – Why this name?)
One interesting thing of the terrace of the leper king is that they found a hidden section that it has been covered intentionally in the past by the Angkor people. Restoration work open again this hidden section and it is possible to visit it now. There are beautiful carved scenes with nagas, devatas and some sort of kings or gods. The exterior part of this terrace is also richly carved, so definitely this place deserve a visit to admire its exceptional carvings.