Vihear Prampil Loveng
Vihear Prampil Loveng is a long laterite terrace with a new pavilion sheltering an ancient Buddha statue. Today the consecrated area is a Theravada Buddhist place of worship. The monastery is also called Wat Prampei Loveng or simply Buddha terrace.
It is not far away from the Elephant and Leper King Terraces at the Royal Square (or Victory Square) in Angkor Thom. Vihear Prampil Loveng is located just behind the pool flanking the South Khleang, beside the Small Circle road. The 128 m long terrace is surrounded by a rectangular wall with an entrance gateway from the east.
The terrace was built under Angkor Thom founder Jayavarman VII. Lion and Elephant guardian sculptures and other typical elements of a classical Angkor Thom terrace can be seen here. But the main reason for a short stop at Vihear Prampil Loveng is the 3.5 m tall Buddha statue. It is sitting on a serpent, the Naga's body is coiling three times and serving as a throne. The Naga is spreading its hood of heads to shelter the Enlightened One like a canopy. According to an Indian legend, which was similar to local Khmer folk tales, the Naga-king Muchilinda emerged out of the roots of the tree under which Buddha was meditating and protected him from a thunderstorm.
This gigantic Buddha statue was originally placed in the central sanctuary of the Bayon temple. This means, it is replaced now and originally was nothing less than the central icon of Angkor Thom. When the iconoclatic Hindu revivalist Jayavarman VIII in the second half of the 13th century turned the Buddhist Bayon into a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva, he damaged or destroyed as many Buddhist works of art as possible. The giant serpent-sheltered Buddha of the Bayon was removed and smashed. But almost all pieces of the shattered statue were recovered in 1933 when archaeologists discovered it on the bottom of the central well in the Bayon temple. The restored sculpture was removed from Bayon and finally placed at its new location Vihear Prampil Loveng in 1935.
The best time for a visit is the morning. There is no ticket checkpoint at the Buddha terrace. But do not enter Angkor Thom without valid Angkor ticket.