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Mysterious carvings of the Angkor Royal Enclosure

A selection of photographs from the Angkor Royal Enclosure included on our 3-day Angkor tour on Cambodia Overland and Highights of Cambodia

The Angkor Royal Enclosure is a walled-off area slightly to the north and west of the centre of Angkor Tom and which housed the palace complex of the Angkor kings. The palace itself was constructed of wood so nothing remains except for said surrounding walls which were constructed out of laterite, the sandstone-clad entrance gopuras and some stone-lined bathing pools.  The remains as seen today date from the late 12th-century and the reign of Jayavarman VII but kings going back to at least Suryavarman I are thought to have sited their palaces at, or close by to, this site.

One of the entrance gopuras of the Royal Enclosure
One of the entrance gopuras of the Royal Enclosure

The 2 largest pools, known as the King’s pool and the Queen’s pool, (or ‘baths of the men’ and ‘baths of the women’), still contain water and are lined with laterite and fringed by carved sandstone steps.

King's bathing pool from the NW
King’s bathing pool from the NW

The carvings on the south and west sides of the larger of the 2 pools are particularly spectacular being well-preserved and with a wide range of subject matter. It appears sculptors were allowed a bit more free rein to indulge their imaginations here than at some of the actual temples and a variety of water creatures and monsters vie with the ‘standard’ apsaras, garudas and demons.

Carved steps a round the pool
Carved steps around the pool

The lowers step features sea creatures -see pic below with realistic fish and crab images on either side of a sea monster – dragon or lizard-like creature. (A reachisey in Khmer)

A reachisey - mythical lizard
A reachisey – mythical lizard

The central step or terrace has female figures or deities wearing unusual naga headdresses.

Eroded female figures with naga crowns or headdresses
Eroded female figures with naga crowns or headdresses

Whilst the upper level is lined with an array of demons and deities, apsaras and garudas.



Apsara and garuda
Close up of Apsara


Upper level garuda
Upper-level garuda


Angkor Royal Enclosure. Another spectacular garuda figure
Another spectacular garuda figure


Angkor Royal Enclosure. Partial apsara with foliage
Partial apsara with foliage

You’re not allowed to bathe in the pools but it is a lovely tranquil spot to sit and chill-out under the tees and if you’re organized enough you could even picnic there. A walk through the wooded Angkor Royal Enclosure with visits to adjacent Phimeanakas and Preah Palilay temples are included on day 2 of our 3-day Angkor visit. You can find full details of all our Cambodia tour itineraries at this link.