West Prasat Top
West Prasat Top, also called Prasat Top West or Monument 486, is a small ruined tower situated in the tranquil western part of Angkor Thom. It can be reached by taking the forest road (Carpeaux road) to the West Gate. After one kilometre there is a board, here you turn left and reach the site after 300 m more. In 2013 there was reconstruction work in progress, allowing visitors to study the Anastylosis method of rearranging original stone blocks.
The temple originally consisted of a single Prasat tower on a steep platform, it bears some similarity in appearance to the Mangalartha temple, which is sometimes called East Prasat Top. But it has a rather different history. Inscriptions reveal that the West Prasat Top temple was originally a Hindu shrine of a much earlier date. Maybe, it was built as early as the 9th century. An inscription of that Roluos period was found here. Definitely there was a Hindu monument at this site already in the tenth century. During the Bayon period, the temple was adepted as a Buddhist sanctuary and seems to have remained to be Buddhist even during the Hindu resurgence in the late 13th century. However, the current structure is from the late 13th century, from the post-Bayon period. Some elements are even post-Angkorian, e.g. some remaining carvings are Theravada Buddhist, dating as late as the 17th century.
A board at the entrance informs about the construction history of East Prasat Top:
"The presumably original structures of this temple - a single sanctuary atop a laterite platform - are thought to date to the 10th century, though a 9th century inscription was also discovered here. The temple that we see today, inventoried as "Monument 486", is largely the result of successive transformations made for the Buddhist cult around to the 13th century and continuing at least into the 17th century. Over the course of this period the laterite platform was refaced with sandstone, the existent sanctuary reconstructed using 10th-century decorative elements (pink sandstone lintels and columns). Two additional towers were erected, one to the north and the other to the south of what then became the central structure. The ensemble was abundantly sculpted with Buddhist imagery. Of particular note are the standing Buddhas still somewhat visible on the collapsed facades of the northern tower. Other sculpture, primarily on architectural elements from the three towers, has been arranged by maintenance teams around the perimetre of the temple. The sandstone platform extending in front of the central tower, along with the statue pedestal built at its western end and scattered rooftile fragments, are all that remain of the Buddhist worship hall (vihear) once standing here, its wooden superstructure having long since perished. As the fundamental ritual act in the appropriation of this ancient site for Theravada Buddhism in the centuries following the transfer of the capital from Angkor, the temple's sacred terrain was delimited at each of the eight cardinal and intercardinal points by double border stones (seima); though partially buried today, some of these leaf-shaped sculptures can still be seen in their original positions."
All times of the day are good to visit West Prasat Top. The ticket will not be checked here, but you should have one when exploring the Angkor Thom area.