The Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King form a 500m long platform across the east side of the Royal Palace in Angkor Thom. The terraces are very different structures to the other Angkor temples, but thanks to their picturesque surroundings, facing the Prasats Suor Prat, and incredible carvings, they are an essential stop an any tour of the city. Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King highlights include the carvings of Airavata, Indra's three headed Elephant, and Balaha, the five headed horse, as well as an impressive array of Garuda bas-reliefs.
Distance from Siem Reap to Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King is around 10km (15 minutes by car, 30 minutes by Tuk Tuk and around an hour by bike). Take Sivatha Road from Siem Reap town and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn left, and continue through the South Gate of Angkor Thom, continuing straight and stopping just past Bayon. You can visit Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King at any time of the day, but mid-afternoon is a good time to see the temple with relatively few crowds, while the Balaha carving is sunlit at midday. An expert local tour guide from Siem Reap will ensure you get the very best from your visit and the journey between Siem Reap and the site.
There is evidence that the terraces were rebuilt and added to, although they are usually credited to Jayavarman VII at the end of the 12th Century, and display much Buddhist mythology. The terraces have undergone several additions since their construction, partly due to collapse of the original walls during the Angkor period (a section of the original is visible in an excavated trench), and later additions were made by Jayavarman VIII at the end of the 13th Century.
"Stand atop the Terrace of the Leper King, and imagine the scenes that would have paraded in front of you at the height of Angkorian power - acrobats performing on ropes stretched between the Suor Prat towers, and your armies and wealth shown before you."
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