Srah Srang

"The royal bathing pool"

Date (embarkation terrace) late 12th century
King Jayavarman VII
(posthumous name: Maha paramasangata pada)
Clearing H. Marchal in 1920
Excavation and restoration work by B.P. Groslier between 1963 and 1965

Leaving Banteay Kdei by the east gate and crossing the road near the 11 kilometre marker stone one gains, in a few paces, an elegant embarkation terrace, axial on the temple and dominating the area of water known as the Srah Srang. This measures 700 metres by just over 300 and, slightly off axis, was without doubt excavated before the reign of Jayavarman VII. It has a border of laterite steps with an outer margin of sandstone. Its centre is marked by a small island on which some jointed stone blocks perhaps formed the base for a small light-weight pavilion.

Entirely surrounded by large trees and always full of water it provides, in the fading light of day, one of the most delightful settings in the Angkor Park - its majestic calm particularly recalling certain views in Versailles, such as the Pièce d'eau des Suisses or the Grand Canal. The terrace, with a moulded sandstone base on laterite foundations, must have supported some light-weight construction which, to judge by the plan of doubled small courtyards, consisted of a large rectangular room with surrounding galleries. An axial stairway flanked by two lions divides into three branches with an intermediate landing - a pleasing arrangement which has allowed the naga-balustrades to be set out in a particularly decorative manner. The rich ornamentation remains refined in style despite the profusion of its elements. To the fore, an enormous garuda rides a three headed naga while the other heads serve to frame it, - to the rear, again the three headed naga with the thighs of the garuda clearly indicated and its stylised tail ornate with small naga heads. The body of the naga rests on blocks sculpted with monsters standing "as atlantes". This is undoubtedly the triumph of a formula which, although perhaps questionable, is nonetheless characteristic of the Bayon style.