The Terrace of the Leper King is one of the great mysteries of Angkor. On top of the 7 meter tall platform stands a nude, sexless statue. The statue standing today is actually a copy of the original statue. The original can be found in the National Museum of Phnom Penh.
Like Jayavarman VII’s other buildings in Angkor, the face of the terrace features impressive bas-reliefs on the interior and exterior. While most visitors are drawn in on account of its famous statue, the elegant carvings along the face of the terrace are as alluring as any other set of carvings in Angkor Thom.
Terrace of the Leper King Video & Photos
The Terrace of the Leper King was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. Some historians believe that the statue depicts the Hindu god Yama. Over time, the statue suffered from discoloration and the accumulation of moss. Those historians speculate that this gave the statue the appearance of portraying a leper, thus giving it the name “Terrace of the Leper King.” There were two famous Angkor kings that suffered from leprosy, and some historians believe that they became associated with the statue because of this appearance.
Other historians contend that the statue was intended to portray one of these leper kings. The strongest argument from this camp is that the original statue depicts king Yasovarman I, which is supported by the fact that his popular name Dharmaraja was inscribed on the bottom of the original statue.
Many years later, the debate rages on among scholars of Angkor, and even among the tourists that flock to the site each year.