West Gate Of Angkor Thom To Close For Restoration

Scaffolding surrounds Angkor Thom's West Gate
Scaffolding surrounds Angkor Thom's West Gate
Photo Credit: Huk Rithy

The many faces of Angkor Thom‘s West Gate (Ta Kav Gate) are set for a much needed restoration. Begun in December 2019, the Apsara Authority in cooperation with The Department of Conservation and Preventative Archaeology (DMCA) have committed to a two year restoration project.

No More Waiting For The West Gate

One of the five gates of Angkor Thom that are spread across the western wall, the West Gate has significant damage. Age, weather, war, lack of maintenance and growing of wild plants and trees through the structure have taken their toll. There is extensive structural damage and the culturally significant god and asura or demon statues are crumbling. One of the key focus’ for the conservation and restoration will be the the 4 three-headed elephant sculptures carrying the Hindu god Indra.

Angkor Thom’s West Gate before restoration works begun
Photo Credit: Huk Rithy

The DCMA have assured that all works are being carried out by expert teams. Currently these teams are working on safe scaffolding installation and reconstructing the stones of the statues for their reinstatement. During the project there will be an archaeological team also on site. The hope is that through archaeological excavations across the site that some new discoveries will be made. Findings such as stone fragments and in depth study of the structure of the gates can provide new insights to the Angkor Golden Age.

Preserving The Past For The Future

This restoration and conservation work is of vital importance. Prior to these works, the West Gate had been largely left alone – falling further into disrepair and damage. This is unlike the more well known South Gate which is the closest to Angkor Wat which has enjoyed significant restoration over a number of years. The West Gate which is also known as Elephant Gate, did have some basic reinforcement works completed in 2007 on the four main sculptures for visitor safety. A wooden walking path which collapsed and was dismantled, made way for a more natural red dirt pathway.

Over the past three months, the team has installed about 60% of the scaffolding to support the structure. Once the scaffolding is complete, the much more painstaking and challenging job of piecing the ancient fragments together can begin. It is still possible to pass through the gate at this time, though it is mostly obscured by the scaffolding.

Janna Cheab is a long-time fan of Siem Reap and no stranger to travel, originally from Australia, she met her Cambodian husband in Siem Reap a decade ago following a year spent globetrotting. After 7 years back home she has recently returned with her young family in tow to set down roots and start a small business. She has written for a number of magazines and websites, including Siemreap.net.