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East Mebon

Angkor, Cambodia

Temple of the Elephants

Situated on an island in the center of the now dry Eastern Baray  reservoir, the 10th century temple of East Mebon is a marvel of ancient Khmer ingenuity. Crossing the stone causeway to the island, it helps to imagine the king's elephants splashing through waters centuries ago. East Mebon was built during the rule of Rajendravarman II and served as a state temple on an artificial mountaintop dedicated to Shiva. Steep stairs mark the ascent to the temple, where four stone elephant  sculptures stand guard, their weathered forms still projecting power and majesty. Intricate bas-reliefs of Hindu mythology decorated the upper levels, showing devatas and various gods. According to local guides, there were once golden statues here, now lost to looters. Standing atop the highest platform, a splendid view of the landscape unfolds, much as the king himself would have centuries ago.

Today, East Mebon remains an impressive archaeological site, containing excellent examples of 10th century Khmer temple architecture, despite some damage and deterioration over time. Descending the elephant-lined stairs, we reflected on the ingenuity and artistry of the ancient Khmers who engineered this manmade volcanic mount as a home for the gods. It is sites like this - off the main trail yet more interesting the more you learn about - that gives a greater depth to the unprecedented rein of the Khmers.


Use the interactive map to also discover nearby treasures.



Situated on an island in the center of Eastern Baray reservoir (though now dried up) north of Angkor Thom


Constructed in 10th century under rule of Rajendravarman II


Served as a state temple dedicated to Shiva in the form of a man-made mountain


Stands as an impressive archaeological site with some damaged structures, stairways lined with elephant sculptures


East Mebon

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Temple of the Elephants


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