advertisement

Continuing north of the Baphuon -- and still within large Angkor Thom -- you reach the "Palace of Air," or Vimean Akhar, which was a royal palace built by three successive kings, Jayavarman II and V as well as Suryavarman I, between 944 and 1045. This Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva is some 12m (40 ft.) high with three levels; each of the three levels represents one of the kings who helped build it. Each side has steep steps and the shallow moat is full in rainy season. The top of the temple is a narrow pillared gallery. The steep climb is best attempted to the left (west) when approaching from the Baphuon (there's a handrail). Have a drink or a fresh coconut in a shaded area at the bottom of the other side.

Adjacent to the Baphuon are two large ponds: the biggest is 125m (410 ft.) long and was where the king himself bathed; the smaller ponds were for the king's courtiers.

Note: The eastern entrance of the Vimean Akhar has a Sanskrit inscription with a brief history of construction and orientation. Most are in museums and this is one of just a few that you can still find on the temple site.