Terrace of the Elephants is a royal platform in Siem Reap that showcases Cambodia’s military power. From the name itself, their utilization of elephants during battles made them a formidable enemy. A stampede from raging elephants is a powerful force that would greatly tremble any opponent. A large army of these ancient tanks highly signifies military superiority during their era.
This majestic terrace is the perfect place to assemble the Khmer Empire’s large army. With its good elevation and the wide space in front of it, the king and his officers can address their subordinates here more adequately. The platform’s size is 350 meters long and 2.5 meters in height. This is definitely wide enough to accommodate plenty of stage performers and officials during ceremonies.
The Terrace of the Elephants was constructed in the late 12th century during the rule of King Jayavarman VII. After his death, his successor King Jayavarman VIII made some additions to the terrace in the 13th century.
Exploring the Terrace of the Elephants
This was our next stop after visiting the Baphuon Temple which is also within the Angkor Thom complex. Unlike your typical concert stage, you can see from afar how royal and grandiose this terrace is. The most noticeable of course are the statues of the elephants that were wonderfully crafted. They’re actually more of a 3D version of the bas-reliefs. Murals of Hindu deities, performers, warriors and various objects were creatively carved along the elephants in the terrace.
Since this used to be a platform where the King Jayavarman VII welcomes his victorious army, perhaps he thought of getting a design which dedicates it to the army units that gives them a massive advantage. Aside from the 3D bas-reliefs of the elephants at the center of the terrace, more 2D versions of them can be found on its walls. The elephants are treated as celebrities and heroes on this terrace.
View Above the Terrace
The stairs to climb up the terrace has two guardian lion statues. One of them is newly restored while the original one is already damaged and faceless. I like how they kept one of them in its damaged state so that you can have a good comparison of their before and after. It was nice to feel the air while sitting at the shaded part of the terrace.
The broad and open field is filled with lush green grass that the horses were happily ingesting in the middle of the day. This place is definitely ideal for big concerts and sporting events because of its size and setup. Isolated towers can be seen from afar at the opposite side of the terrace. They appear to be guard towers which could be functioning as light towers as well because they’re evenly spread out in the field.
Aside from the temples, it was nice to see a different structure that is full of sculptures and artworks by the creatives hands of the Cambodians. The uniqueness of the structures that we toured in Siem Reap reveals how Cambodians love variety. Glancing another page of Cambodia’s history in this place is truly a pleasure.