Stark naked, a statue of Yama sits with one knee raised atop the terrace, surveying the Royal Square. Because it is tainted by discolouration and lichen, the statue was believed to be one of a leper, and the name stuck. The statue you see today is a replica, with the original now held in the National Museum in Phnom Penh.
The Leper King Terrace is decorated with seven levels (the top level is almost all gone) of bas relief carvings. Three of the four walls (east, north and south) are carved with very deep bas reliefs. The carvings on the north wall are among the best; keep an eye out for the sword swallower. The level of detail along with the volume of carvings you see on the interior walls, walking along wooden boards between the dark, narrow passageways with their high walls, is a truly impressive sight. These internal walls would have been buried at one stage.
The terrace also has a hidden rear corridor which can be entered from either the southwest or northwest and which zigzags behind the main terrace. Along this secret passage the lower level of bas reliefs represent the underworld; keep your eyes peeled for the particularly vivid expressions on some of the faces.
By Caroline Major
Last updated on 21st January, 2015.