The Bayon is like a forest of rock pinnacles, a jumble of rocky towers reaching skyward, some 37 at last count, once believed to be about fifty. The block towers weathered an ancient grey, built in single stone blocks, towers seemingly arranged in no particular order, but rising towards the central tower. Most central towers have four faces, other towers three and some only two.
This is the Bayon the State temple in the center of the Khmer capital city Angkor Thom. The kingdom of Khmer Kings. Ruling Kings – JayavarmanVII and JayavarmanVIII.
You cannot escape the smiling faces. Only – 216 huge smiling faces of the god-king on the temple towers. Comparing the faces to known statues of the King, many scholars believe the faces represent King Jayavarman VII himself. Then again some believe as a follower of Buddhism, King Jayavarman VII identified himself with the Buddha of compassion and the stone heads may represent the Buddha and the king; traditionally Khmer kings also believed themselves to be a God-King.
Everyday life in Khmer Kingdom
Close up this temple is awesome, and quite an extraordinary complex. The Bayon is like exploring a maze. It has a confusing number of inner temples, narrow corridors, galleries and stairways rising to three levels. An exquisite carving of Hindu dancers (devada) appear unexpectedly on a large column. Glimpses of the Kings smiling face greets you from the third level as you explore the corridors below. In the southern galleries are Bas-Reliefs depicting images of everyday life in the Khmer kingdom.
Eastern Gallery – Battles
In the eastern gallery beautifully detailed bas-reliefs record battle scenes between Khmer Kingdom and the Kingdom of Champa (Vietnamese). One of particular note depicts the Khmer King seated on an elephant leading his army into battle. King Jayavarman VII defeated the Chams in battle in 1181. It is pretty amazing to have the history recorded so beautifully in bas-reliefs, as well as on Stele discovered in the temples, now housed in the Conservation Office.
One has a feeling of well-being walking among the Kings smiling faces, definitely different smiles on some faces. Were sculptors allowed a little leeway, or were there just too many of the Kings heads to keep track of, or maybe its just the weathering over time?
Below the central tower in the ruins of the Bayon, we watched in delight as young Khmer dancers performed with such grace and beauty their special repertoire for the tourists.
Elephants of the Khmer Kingdom
And then the Elephants, beautiful dark-skinned Asian elephants with their bright red and gold saddle cloths, lumbering gently and patiently along the path in front of the pond at the Bayon. Asian elephants are smaller than their African counterparts and darker in color; very beautiful creatures. There were six in all kept busy by tourists; just caught their reflections as they ambled along on the other side of the pond. If you look to the wall pictures of the Khmer army riding into battle in a procession of elephants, it interesting to see that the elephants are now riding in a procession for tourists, which is probably a much less dangerous occupation.
From the Bayon we moved on to explore the Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King……
- Angkor Thom-Faces Kings Gods and demons – Siem Reap
- lake tonle sap floating villages
- Sankae river boat cruise stung sangkae river
- Wat Banan Battambang Province
- Sightseeing by tuk tuk the province of Battambang
- fun in the sun rural countryside battambang province
- fast and furious ride on a bamboo train cambodia
- potters pots and pottery the province of chhnang cambodia
- Udong Stupas – intriguing burial sites
- Garment factory workers in the rain Phnom-Penh
- Kompong-speu waterfall area Kirirom national park
- verdant green pine forest kirirom national park
- traditional music pich nil cambodia
- spirit houses pich nil mountain pass
- golden lions of Sihanoukville beach resort town
- Highway to Sihanoukville town deep sea port and beach resorts
- durian tropical fruit Kampot-landmark old bridge
- plantations of black pepper-salt and pepper Kampot
- Beachhouse at Kep – Seaside resort
- Caves of kampong trach kampot caves
- Tonle (lake) Bati – Hindu Temple of Phnom Chisor
- Temple of Ta Prohm Takeo
- A Mekong cruise on the mighty Mekong River
- Killing fields – Cambodia – a chilling experience
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum Phnom Penh Cambodia
- Lotus Blanc- Phnom Penh- Restaurant
- Artifacts – National Museum of Cambodia Phnom Penh
- Emerald Buddha Silver Pagoda Phnom Penh
- Royal Palace Throne Hall Phnom Penh
- Cambodia 2011 Phnom Penh city
- Snapshot of Cambodia Kampuchea