This is the third post describing our visit to the Angkor area. The first post provides a map and a list of references that I’m using to supplement my descriptions.


After entering the ancient city of Angkor Thom through the south gate, we proceeded north 1.5 km to Bayon, the temple that sits at the very center of the city. Here is the approach to the temple from the east, a direction associated with life…

Bayon
Bayon

In my mind (and probably in the minds of most visitors), the outstanding feature of this temple is the 216 smiling faces of King Jayavarman VII looking down at you from 54 towers. (Alternatively, the faces may be of a figure who represents the compassion of Buddha. Quite likely, it’s both: a blurring of lines that is meant to reinforce the god-like status of the king.)

Faces 1
Faces

(And more faces.)

The other feature of the temple that sticks in my mind is the bas-reliefs. Mr. Guest Complacent pointed these out to us. Apparently, the total length of these reliefs is over 1.2 km, with over 11000 figures depicted. On the outer wall, the carvings depict scenes from every day life. This wall would have been accessible to the general populace.

Battles
Battles
Battles and business transactions
Battles and business transactions
Aquatic life
Aquatic life
Crocodile and prey
Crocodile and prey
Monkeys
Monkeys
Birds
Birds
Libations
Libations?

The inner wall would have been in a more restricted portion of the temple. The carvings depict scenes from Hindu mythology. I don’t have pictures of those reliefs.

We passed a spot where restoration work was under way…

Restoration:preparing the ground
Restoration: preparing the ground
Resoration: building the walls
Restoration: building the walls

Even though it was still in the early part of the morning, the temperature and humidity were already getting high. At some point as we trekked up and down temple steps, Youngest Daughter lamented,

I wish there was a slide!

Finally, a few other random photos from our exploration of Bayon:

From Bayon, we split up. Some of us walked past Baphuon, and others went to visit a large contemporary statue of the Buddha. We met up again at the Terrace of the Elephants.

Coming up: The conclusion of our visit to Angkor Thom

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