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- Terrace of Elephants -

"The Terrace of the Elephants was used by King Jayavarman VII as a place to watch his men return from war. This viewing platform has elephants, lions and garudas carved along. It was also used as a place for public ceremonies and as an audience hall."

The Terrace of the Elephants is in Angkor Thom, once the capital city of Khmer Empire. It's about 350 meter long and 2.5 meter tall. It was used as a giant viewing stand for the public ceremonies and it served as a base for the king's grand audience hall. The Elephants Terrace is in the front of the Royal Palace area, including the Phimeanakas temple (only a few ruins remain) and the Sras Srei water reservoir.
Most of the original structure was made of organic material and has long since disappeared. Most of what remains are the foundation platforms of the complex. The terrace is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.

There are five stairways leading up to the terrace from the Central Square, with a central stairway to a road connecting the Royal Palace area with the Victory Gate. Two smaller stairways exist on either side of the central stairway and two more are at either end of the terrace. The platform of the terrace is furnished with naga railings.
The middle section of the retaining wall is decorated with life-size garudas and lions. Towards either are two parts of the parade of elephants, complete with their Khmer mahouts.
Garudas are mythical birds, which are known as the vehicles of Hindu god Vishnu, also known for being the mortal enemies of nagas, the seven headed serpents representing rainbows. Along the side of the garudas are small sections of walls containing figures of men with lion heads. Both garudas and lion-headed figures are sculpted with their hands raised above their heads and are alternating along the wall.


The Elephants

The terrace was used by Angkor's king Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army and public ceremonies. Here you could see the pomp and the grandeur of the Khmer empire at its heights, with infantry, cavalry, horse drawn chariots, pennants and standards aloft. The god-king was sitting with a gold diadem, shaded by parasols and attended by mandarins and handmaidens bearing gold and silver utensils.

The terrace
The Central Square