Photo: Nothing else like it.

Terrace of the Leper King and Tep Pranam

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Commencing where the Elephant Terrace left off, and believed to date to the 13th century, the 6m-high Terrace of the Leper King is so named for the statue of Yama, the God of the Underworld, atop it.

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.

Impressive carving effort. Photo taken in or around Terrace of the Leper King and Tep Pranam, Angkor, Cambodia by Caroline Major.

Impressive carving effort. Photo: Caroline Major

The statue you see today is a replica, with the original now in safe-keeping at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. Yama aside, 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.

You can walk the length of the Terrace of the Elephants, starting immediately north of Baphuon temple, which will then bring you to the Terrace of the Leper King.

Continue on to the north and you’ll reach the small Tep Pranam which boasts a 75-metre long laterite causeway, at the end of which sits a large seated Buddha. The site is dated to around the ninth century, when a Buddhist temple would have sat atop a 30-metre by 30-metre platform, only the base of which remains today. Various additions, such as the balustrades and lions, are thought to have been made in the 12th and 13th centuries. The five- or six-metre tall Buddha is in the subduing Mara position, and is made of repurposed stone. Tep Pranam is worth a quick glance for its pleasant tree-filled setting. An active Buddhist temple remains at the site.

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Terrace of the Leper King and Tep Pranam
North of the Elephant Terrace

Location map for Terrace of the Leper King and Tep Pranam

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