Our bus drops us off so we can walk along a causeway leading to an entry tower. On the right are 54 frowning demons and on the left 54 smiling gods guarding the city of Angkor Thom. Many of the heads stolen over time, have been replaced with contemporary sculpture offering the illusion of another time although motorcycles, tuk tuks, cars and buses slowly cross the bridge.
Each of the temple’s five entry towers is equally impressive. Each tower stands 75-feet-high and is adorned with four heads representing the rulers of the four cardinal points at the summit of Mount Meru in Hindu mythology.
Back on the bus with the other 15 Exodus Travels tour members, we head deeper into the complex.
The last capital of the Khmer Empire, Angkor Thom was a fortified city of priests, officials of the palace and the military as well as buildings for administering the kingdom. As amazing as the gates are, imagine several towers, each with four faces looking down from their lofty perch. For sure-footed visitors, there are stairs enabling them to climb to an equally high perch.
Another feature is the vast walls of intricate carvings; so deep they have stood the test of time. Scenes portrayed offer a glimpse into everyday life as well as religious symbols and mythology.
Read about another Cambodian temple, Angkor Wat in the first part of this series by Marilyn Jones.