Garudas and a pair of monk's sandals
Within the grounds of the great city of Angkor Thom there are at least seven active wats or monasteries. Each deserves a few minutes of your time, if you have any time to spare. Most people don't have that luxury as they whizz around Angkor in double-quick time, but if you do, have a nose around the wats to see what you can dig up. On my recent cycling expedition to the East Gate of the city, I popped into two of these monasteries. The first was Preah Se-ar Metrei
, which is located amongst the trees on the western side of the road between the South Gate and the Bayon. The vihara is an open-sided affair made of wood and corrugated iron though the terrace that supports the vihara is bordered by a large collection of upright garudas, with their arms aloft holding up the floor of the terrace. I've seen similar figures at Banteay Chhmar. There are more beaked figures holding up the small terrace that leads onto the vihara too. Apart from a monk lounging in a hammock inside the vihara, his ear glued to his mobile phone, there was no one else at the site.
The garudas show their strength in holding up the terrace at Preah Se-ar Metrei The open-sided vihara at Preah Se-ar Metrei monastery The outer wall of the terrace shows garudas for much of its length This series of damaged garudas sits on the small platform leading to the vihara at Preah Se-ar Metrei A circular carved sculpture at Wat Tang TokThe ruined laterite shrine in the grounds of Wat Tang Tok
The second monastery was at Wat Tang Tok
, as I cycled into the heart of Angkor Thom from the Victory Gate. Located to the north, it is almost opposite the walled area called Vihear Prampil Loveng. The monastery houses a ruined laterite structure that was once a small shrine with a few sandstone carvings nearby including an unusual circular sculpture and a naga head. Nearby, Vihear Prampil Loveng
is a walled compound with a series of five terraces leading to a small shrine housing a Buddha that was rescued from the Bayon many years ago. It is preceded by a series of lions and elephant statues that are still in reasonable condition, and behind the shrine is a walled pond that leads onto the series of twelve towers known at Prasat Suor Prat. This is a peaceful area of Angkor Thom rarely visited by anyone and would be great for a picnic. Back on my bike, I took a route around the back of the towers and the North Khleang as I headed for my next stop, Preah Pithu.
The distinctive head of a lion at Vihear Prampil Loveng A sturdy elephant stands guard at Vihear Prampil Loveng A well-preserved lion head at Vihear Prampil Loveng A view of the terraces at Vihear Prampil Loveng The series of terraces leading to the main central shrine at Vihear Prampil Loveng The walled pond behind the main shrine and backing onto the towers of Prasat Suor Prat
Labels: Angkor Thom