Secret Angkor Temples: Baphuon, Terrace of Elephants, Phimeanakas

Baphuon Temple Angkor, Cambodia

Baphuon Temple in Angkor Cambodia was an 11th century Hindu temple that was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. The classical style features 3 tiered architecture that is symbolic of Mt Meru. However, the Baphuon meaning was converted to Buddhism in the late 15th century.

Baphuon Temple Angkor Cambodia

View from the front of Baphuon Temple in Angkor, Cambodia.

After completion the Baphuon temple drew acclaim from foreign dignitaries such as the 13th century envoy for the Yuan Dynasty named Chou Ta-kuan. During his visit between 1296 to 1297 he remarked:

“the Tower of Bronze…a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base”.

The photo below is taken from the platform on the 2nd tier and the steep stairway on the left emerges at the top of temple. From the top, the view is rather extraordinary. 

Baphuon Temple Angkor Cambodia

View from the 2nd tier of Baphuon Temple in Cambodia. The stairway on the left leads to the top of the temple complex for an extraordinary view.

Baphuon Temple Eastern Orientation

The main entrance is reached by walking over an elevated pathway which is several hundred meters long. Predictably, the orientation of Baphuon is towards the east which is a familiar feature of Hindu temples.

Baphuon Temple Angkor Cambodia

The photo below is a taken from the top of the Baphuon Temple and illustrates the length of the pathway..

After the conversion to Buddhism in the 15th century a large reclining Buddha was constructed on the western side of the second level. In total, the statue measured 9 meters tall and 70 meters in length.  Unfortunately, the Buddha has fallen into disrepair however, it still is an amazing feature of the Baphuon Temple.

Photo Reclining Buddha Statue - Baphuon Temple Angkor Cambodia

Large reclining Buddha statue featured on the second tier of the Baphuon Temple complex in Angkor Cambodia.

When the Khmer Rouge came to power in the 1970s many of the temple restoration projects that were in progress were abandoned. Fortunately, there is still much to be observed.

Buddhism has survived since it’s introduction to Cambodia and it has also prevailed through the oppression of the 1970s. 

Buddhist monk at Baphuon Temple in Angkor Cambodia

Buddhist monk sits on the 2nd tier of Baphuon Temple in Angkor. Theravada Buddhism has survived many years of political oppression in Cambodia.

Terrace of Elephants & Phimeanakas Yemple

The terrace was used by King Jayavarman VII to review his marching troops as they returned from victory. The Terrace of Elephants is a platform that stretches for 350 meters and is named for the carvings of elephants on its eastern face.

Terrace of the Elephants

Photo featuring the entire length of the Elephant Terrace in Angkor Cambodia.

Terrace of Elephants

The Terrace of Elephants is connected to the Phimeanakas Temple. Unfortunately, much of the original Phimeanakas Palace was made of organic material and it has since decomposed. However, the foundation of the palace complex remains and it can still be explored.

Phimeanakas

Conclusion

When you visit Angkor the road less traveled is certainly worth exploring. Alternatively speaking, Baphuon Temple, Terrace of Elephants and Phimeanakas Temple are several of the many rewarding attractions to enjoy while everybody is busy ogling Angkor Wat. Especially Baphuon temple, this temple is amazing and it is surely underrated. 

 

Additional resources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baphuon
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrace_of_the_Elephants
http://www.tourismcambodia.com/attractions/angkor/baphuon.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banteay_Srei