Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Far north

The North Gate of Angkor Thom, from the south face
A break in the path and the massive laterite wall meant a diversion through the forest
The track along the earth embankment between the northeast corner temple and the North Gate was the most difficult to negotiate so far on my cycle ride along all four walls of Angkor Thom. The leafy path had three breaks in the wall to navigate including one where I had to lie flat on the ground with the mountain bike to crawl under the roots of a tree. Certainly the most challenging part of my epic ride so far. Below the wall, the moat had turned into a small stream and tended plots of land for rice and vegetables with the occasional water buffalo. I reached the North Gate in about fifteen minutes and took some pictures from the top of the embankment of the giant faces and the elephant trunks that reach to the ground before scrambling down to ground level with my bike. The gods and demons that line the outer entrance to this busy gate are in a pretty sad state with the majority of the heads missing, either stolen or removed for safe-keeping. The whole gate itself was restored in 1946, whilst its doorway opening would have originally been furnished with double wooden doors, mounted on pivots, which were fitted with a horizontal closing bar, the holes for which still remain visible in the walls. Like the other four gates that open up access to Angkor Thom, the North Gate is 23 metres high and crowned with four massive, enigmatic faces which I believe to be the glorified image of Jayavarman VII, the king responsible for the city and its fantastic array of buildings, and of course, its wall. I was now at the halfway point of my journey as I climbed the wall again to head for the northwest corner and the third Prasat Chrung.
My path along the wall's inner embankment was leaf-strewn and shaded from the sun
This was the trickiest break in the path and wall to negotiate as I had to lie flat to get under the tree roots on the right
Three of the giant faces as I approach the North Gate from the east
The three-headed elephant, Airavata, with Indra sat on top, can be found at all of the gates on both sides of the two openings
Another look at the face of Jayavarman VII from the east approach
The southern entrance to the North Gate
Looking down at the gods and demons guarding the entrance to the North Gate, mostly devoid of their heads
The two elephant carvings on the southern side of the North Gate are in great condition
A final look at the west-facing giant visage of the North Gate of Angkor Thom



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cambodia is a real land of smile just look at those smiling faces at Bayon.

March 5, 2009 at 9:15 AM  

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