Srah Srang, the “Royal bathing pool” is a large pond East of Angkor’s capital Angkor Thom. An attractive and quiet spot, the water reservoir measuring 700 meters long and over 300 meters wide is filled with water to this day.
The Srang pond lies directly East of the Banteay Kdei temple. A walkway from the temple’s East gate leads to the embarkation terrace on the West border of the Srah. The pond was dug out during the reign of King Rajendravarman II in the 10thcentury. It was an ablution pool, a pond used for ritual washings.
In spite of its name “Royal bathing pool”, Srah Srang was for the benefit of all people. A 10th century inscription found nearby calls upon people not to bathe animals in the srah thus polluting its waters, and not led herds of elephants destroy the earthen dykes. The site was cleared from jungle vegetation in 1920.
During the reign of King Jayavarman VII in the second half of the 12th century a number of alterations were made to the site. The earth embankment surrounding the lake was replaced by laterite steps, allowing easy access to the water.
A multi tiered embarkation terrace with Naga balustrades was built on the West side of the pond. The terrace was probably used to embark on a boat to the artificial island in the center of the Srah, where once stood a sanctuary, of which virtually nothing remains today. On the cruciform terrace stood a wooden pavilion which has long gone comprising of two inner courtyards surrounded by galleries. Flanking the top of the stairs to the jetty are two large stone lions overlooking the water.
Sunrise and sunset viewing spot
The embarkation terrace has recently been restored. The Srah Srang is a popular place to watch the sunrise (from the embarkation terrace) and sunset (from the East side of the Srah) with a very nice reflection of the sun in the waters.
The best time to arrive at Srah Srang is in the early morning hours, before the sun rises. Find a good place on the terrace to relax, and wait… wait for the sunbeams to pry apart the trees at the far end of the baray. Watch the sun’s pink and yellow rays bounce off the smooth-as-glass water. And don’t forget your camera.
Tip: Srah Srang always has water and is surrounded by greenery. According to one French archaeologist, it offers at the last rays of the day one of the most beautiful points to view the Park of Angkor.
Getting There: From Siem Reap, take the road to Angkor Wat. When you arrive at the moat of Angkor Wat, turn right. You will pass Prasat Kravan on your right. Then, you will arrive at Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang.