The South Gate of Angkor Thom.

The South Gate of Angkor Thom is one of five gates to the ancient city, and it is also the busiest. Even in the rainy season, there are always cars and buses queuing to enter the narrow gateway. Tourists usually walk over the causeway, admiring the gateway and reproductions of the heads of the gods and demons along the balustrade.

It is slightly amusing to see hordes of tourists crammed together, when only a few metres away they would be virtually alone. To avoid seeing the South Gate clogged with traffic and tourists, walk to the left down to the moat for the view shown in the photo. The traffic and people are hidden by the walls of the causeway and cattle can often be seen grazing by the water’s edge.

Nearby are a couple of small temples – Prasat Bei with three towers, and Baksei Chamkrong, a 12 metre pyramid dedicated to Shiva. Its name means “the bird which shelters under its wings.” This refers to the legend of King Yasovarman escaping from battle, being saved by a huge bird which hid him from view. Both these temples date from the tenth century.

Correction: In last weeks Temple Watch, the term limestone was used to describe the stone used in the building of Angkor. Sandstone is the correct term. Apologies for the error. Dave Perkes


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