Monday, January 26, 2009

The Gate of Victory

One of those incredible faces, the southern face of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom
A few posts ago I highlighted the Gate of the Dead, well today, it's the turn of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom. Whilst the other four gates of the city converge on the state temple of the Bayon, the Victory Gate pierces the eastern wall surrounding the city 500m north of the Gate of the Dead and leads directly to the Royal Palace. It is identical in style to the other gates, 23m high with a triple tower carved with four faces, closely resembling the known statues of Jayavarman VII. It's believed that the faces were added later than the main construction, which took place in the latter part of the 12th century. At the base of the tower, on either side, a three-headed elephant with trunks that are picking lotus flowers, form pillars. On the eastern approach to the gate, headless gods and demons stand guard carrying a seven-headed naga, with most of the heads removed to Angkor Conservation for safe-keeping or stolen by looters. I approached the Victory Gate along the top of the laterite city wall from the East Gate via a leafy, shaded track that had a sheer drop of 8m on one side. After surveying the gate I headed off into the centre of Angkor Thom for more exploration.
The leafy, shaded track along the top of the city wall. The sheer drop is on the left
The western face of the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom
Lokiteshvara carving with two worshippers on the top of the Victory Gate wall
The top of the Victory Gate, seen from the south
The base of the elephant trunks, picking lotus flowers, with elephant carvings
Indra, flanked by two worshippers high on the wall of the gate
A full head and a half-head of an Asura (demon) at the east entrance to the gate
The face of a god at the entrance to the Victory Gate
A row of headless gods carrying the naga at the Victory Gate

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