The last day of the circuit will be unforgettable for you with the experiences you will get from many magnificent monuments of the Great King Builder Jayavarman VII (1181-c. 1218). With him, the capital Yashodharapura has changed its look to a great extent.
After his coronation in 1181 AD, King Jayavarman VII fortified his capital city of Angkor Thom with high laterite twelve-kilometer wall, pierced by five imposing gates, known as Angkor Thom Gates. There is one gate at each cardinal direction except the east which has two. Four-faced structure on the top, the celestial three-headed elephant, image of a standing Lokeshvara on the pediments on each side of the gates and two rows of stone gods and demons holding a snake on each side of the causeway make the scene breath-taking.
Erected towards the end of the 12th century, the Bayon temple is sometimes viewed as embodying a type of Angkorian “baroque” in comparison with Angkor Wat. The smiling face depicted on many of its towers is enigmatic. Its exceptional bas-reliefs depict the daily life of the Khmers at the time of Angkor’s grandeur.
In the late 12th century, Preah Khan (or “Sacred Sword”) was a complete city. Today, it is a temple that invites visitors to meander slowly through and admire the architecture, decoration, the hall of dancers and, of course, the giant “fromagers”. There are several interesting pediments, carvings and structures which tourists should not miss, such as pediment of God Vishnu reclining on the snake Ananta, Garudas on fourth enclosure wall and two-storey structure.
Neak Pean meaning “coiled serpents” is a temple located at the center of a former reservoir with two “coiled serpents” framing the central tower. This site’s cruciform layout symbolizes a miraculous lake in the Himalayas. The lake is famous for the curative powers of its water as well as for being the source of four great rivers flowing from the mouths of a lion, an elephant, a horse and a bull.
Spong trees (dubbed “fromagers” by the French owing to their enormous roots that brought to mind an oozing camembert) have invaded Ta Prohm temple erected in the late 12th century. However, conservators have agreed to leave the monument untouched in order to retain the picturesque appearance that so struck 19th century explorers.
Banteay Kdei (of late 12th century) is located opposite the Sras Srang reservoir. Though not as popular as Ta Prohm or Preah Khan (monuments of a similar period and style), it nevertheless provides an ideal setting to linger.
Sras Srang or “Royal Bath” is now a favorite haunt of children and fishermen with their nets. During the dry season, the remains of an ancient temple can be seen in its center, and it is a good place in which to relax or walk around.
Our circuit of Angkorian capitals will finish at the Khmer Habitat Interpretation Center where you can get to know a Khmer house’s architecture. You will see a charming wooden Khmer style house in the mist of garden of flowers and vegetables. It was perhaps in a peaceful atmosphere like this that Khmer “citizens” lived in the Angkorian time.