Be a part of the glorious Angkor temple complex, Phimeanakas temple is the highlight that brings the different feeling for tourists when visiting Angkor complex. For the traveling worms who take the living target to travel, this temple is a must-visit place you have to consider in your Cambodia tour.
Overview of Phimeanakas temple
The name 'Phimeanakas' has the origin from the Sanskrit language, whereas, the words of 'vimana' and 'akasha' mean 'celestial palace of the gods'. In contrast to this illustrious name, the temple itself is a fairly modest edifice measuring 36 x 28 meters at the base and 30 x 23 meters at the top, rising only 12 meters above the surrounding landscape. It was constructed during the reign of Rajendravarman II or Suryavarman I and probably functioned as a private temple for the king and a select group of invitees. Evidence for this is the location of the temple within the royal palace compound, as well as the limited space on the upper terrace which permitted only a single tower (rather than the usual five on other temple-mountains). There was also no causeway leading to the temple, and access to the top level could only be obtained by climbing extremely steep staircases without landings.
The temple is made mostly of laterite though the upper gallery was the first at Angkor to be built entirely of sandstone. When Zhou Daguan-a Chinese politician-visited Angkor in the 13th century, he called Phimeanakas temple as a 'Tower of Gold'. He also quoted a legend that the temple housed a Nagini representing a girl with a serpent's body who forced the King to sleep with her each night prior to sleeping with his wives and concubines. Unless that, the kingdom could meet the misfortune. Worse still, if the Nagini failed to appear, it was a sign that the king's death was imminent.
How to visit Phimeanakas temple
Phimeanakas temple is around 11km from Siem Reap, it takes just 15 minutes by car, and 28 minutes by tuk-tuk as well as an hour by bike to visit this temple. From Siem Reap town, you will hit the Sivatha road to travel until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Then, turn left to Bayon. Continuing to go straight to Leper King Terrace and stopping there, after that, you will take the 10-minute walk to the Elephant Terrace, and here you will see Phimeanakas Temple. Phimeanakas Temple welcomes you all day long but the mid-afternoon is considered the best time to contemplate this temple because of its best light illuminating the temple. Making a plan to visit the Phimeanakas temple in advance is a suggestion because it is very useful for orientation. Seeking for an expert local tour guide from Siem Reap will ensure you have the best journey between Siem Reap and the site.
What to see in Phimeanakas temple
The temple is faced to the east. In front of the main entrance of the temple, you can see a gopura standing in the central entrance door with a single tower on top of it. The two entrance doors in two sides are smaller than the main one a bit. There is an inscription in the door jambs which implied 1011 of the oath of allegiance to the Angkor King.
Three steep tiers of the pyramid
The Phimeanakas temple has the pyramidal structure which consists of 3 tiers of diminishing size. The structure is not too wide with 35 meters long and 28 meters wide at the ground, meanwhile, the platform is smaller a bit with 30 meters long and 23 meters wide. The steep stairway leads to the top with the lion statues on sides. the easiest way to get to the top of the temple is on the western side, which is equipped with a handrail. The elephant statues are placed at the corners of each tier as the guardians.
The steel stairway of Phimeanakas temple
Galeries and sanctuary at the top
The platform of the temple is surrounded by small galleries. It is considered the first vaulted galleries to be built in Angkor period, which has become the model of a wide range of the later monuments. These galleries could replace for older galleries which were made of the rustic materials. You can see the ruins of a small cruciform sanctuary at the center where four vestibules stand to face to four cardinal points. The structure could be added later to replace the original wooden structure, which might be the “Golden Tower” that Zhou Daguan described in his trip to Angkor in the 13th century.
Coming to package tour Cambodia, you will be like flip back the time and throw back to the glorious Angkor period where the majestic citadels and temples used to exist along this country. If you need further information about Phimeanakas temple, feel free to contact us. Thank you and have a nice trip!