The second largest of Angkor’s barays, East Baray measures 4 miles by 1 mile (6 km by 2 km) and was built by King Yasovarman I in the 9th century. Watered by the Stung Treng, it held close to 13 bil- lion gal (50 million cu m) of water and may have been 10 ft (3 m) deep. While some believe that its purpose was symbolic, representing the sea surrounding Mount Meru, others contend its purpose was for irrigation – with a population of about one million, it would have been essential to produce three rice harvests a year.
On an island in the middle of the baray is the Oriental Mebon temple, built by Rajendravarman II in honor of his parents. Surrounded by three laterite walls, the temple gradually rises to a quincuncial arrangement of towers dotted with holes that would have supported stucco decorations.
At ground level its stairways are flanked by sandstone lions and at its corners are four well- preserved sandstone elephants.