East Mebon Temple, Angkor Wat

East Mebon
View through the enclosure wall to the central sanctuary of the East Mebon.

You need to use quite a bit of imagination when visiting the East Mebon temple. It's not that the temple is badly ruined. The imagination is needed to think of the temple as it originally existed, as an island in the middle of a large artificial lake, the Eastern Baray.

When it was built, around 952, the East Mebon must have been quite impressive. The pyramidal structure consists of three concentric tiers crowned by five towers. It is a typical motif of many Angkor temples, which seek to represent Mount Meru, the location of the Hindu "heaven". It must have been highly symbolic, rowing a boat across the lake to one of the temple's four landings, then climbing up the tiers to pray at the shrines.

On arriving at the temple, one of the first things you'll notice is are the large elephants standing at each corner of the lowest tier. The elephants are carved from a single block of stone. Gateways in the center of each side lead up to the second and third platforms.

Satellite Image of the East Mebon
East Mebon Plan
Image ©Google Earth

The top-most platform holds the five central towers. The doors and false doors of the towers are carved from single slabs of greenish sandstone and finely decorated with a delicate floral pattern. From a distance, many of the false doors look almost new, but on closer inspection you can see that the lower portions are badly weathered and washed away.