The name Terrace of the Leper King is taken from the naked statue on the top of the terrace. No one actually knows if the statue is really of a king instead of Yama, the god of the underworld.
Some say that King Jayavarman 7th was a leper, which was why he built so many hospitals in the area.
This theory, however, has no proof whatsoever. The more popular explanation is that the terrace’s name came from the fact that the stone statue has started to age and discolor, causing that blotchiness that is identified with leprosy.
But then, what was terrace called when the statue was still spotless? Makes you wonder.
The two walls at the terrace
The Terrace of the Leper King is located on the north side of the Elephant terrace. It’s a ‘smaller’ terrace, but it’s unique in that there’s an ‘alley’ filled with intricate carvings, from top to bottom. Plus, there are more carvings on the outer side.
This ‘alley’ is actually the work of the conservators. When they saw that the wall of the Terrace was collapsing, they found that there’s another wall before the outermost wall. So they made this ‘alley’ to allow the visitors to see the first wall.
Based on this double wall condition, researchers say that it looks like the old builders extended the terrace without destroying the first wall. This was why the carvings on the old wall were left intact, because they just added more stones to the existing terrace.
There is an abundant amount of bas-reliefs here. They are not fine, delicate work like at Banteay Srei, but they are carved deep into the stone, more resembling statues instead of just reliefs.
Inside the zigzag alley you can see multiple-headed serpents, garudas, giants, gods, and women carvings.
Going inside the alley on a hot day is a relief. The alley is somewhat cool in temperature because you’ll be shaded from the blazing sun while you’re there.
P.S. The statue that is currently on the terrace is actually a copy. The original is stored at the Phnom Penh museum.
Where would you like to go next?
Return from Terrace of the Leper King to Angkor Thom temples for a list of other sites that you can easily visit