Bayon: The Temple of Many Faces

My apologies for taking so long in writing this continuation of my Cambodia trip series.  To answer the question from my previous post, the grandest attraction inside Angkor Thom is the Bayon Temple which stands enigmatically at the very center of the walled city.  (Sacred Destinations)  To initially unlock its mystery, the strategic location of the temple symbolizes an intersection between heaven and earth, a depiction of Hindu belief and Buddhism in one as the official state temple of Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII.  (Wikipedia)

bayon temple
Located just a few meters away from the south gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple embodies a baroque style of Khmer architecture.  And just like the leaning tower of the gate, towers of the temple also has the many faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, symbolizing its omniscience and omnipresence.  According to our tour guide Te, there are about 54 towers each with 4 gigantic faces so that makes a total of 216 faces!  With downcast eyes, wide nose, and thick lips curled in a mysterious smile, the Bayon is often regarded as the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia”.

bayon temple
Aside from the many faces, there are also bas-reliefs carved on the walls depicting scenes of mythological and historical events just like Angkor Wat‘s.  One of my favorites are the dancers.  They look so beautiful, reminding me of my aunt who is an international dancer.  It’s still fresh in my memory when she uniquely danced as a Khmer with all those weird facial expressions for a ten-year old me during my mom’s batch hosting of their alumni homecoming.  Anyway, to tour around, it is advisable to start east, turn left to the first gallery, then go up level by level.  Or better yet hire a clever guide for perfect timings in avoiding crowds at vantage point pictorials.

Talking about vantage points, Mr. Te found us a nose to nose with one Buddha face.  Trick was just to bend down and tilt the camera up a bit for that perfect shot!  It was preposterous to do such gesture considering that the place is sacred but we complied as per tour guide advise.

Another advise in touring around, watch your steps for you might stumble upon a crumbled stone.  There might also be some falling debris ‘coz the temple is already centuries old.  There are crammed areas with wooden steep staircases which will do as ladders so we didn’t dare at all!  Moreover, there are also tiny recesses which invites you to play hide and seek.  With narrow passages, it adds more to the mysterious effect of the temple.  But you may also feel the need to use ’em as a quick shelter from the rays of the sun or when it rains as was our case.

Just like Angkor Wat, Bayon Temple also has mysteries of its own.  It enthralls you, captivates you, amazes you!  Explainable or unexplainable, there are really some things here on earth that are beyond our comprehension.  Sometimes, we just have to accept such things ‘coz they are better left unexplained so just let go.  #hugot  Haha!!!

There are still more mysteries to unravel around Angkor Thom so stay tuned only here on The Other Side of Mae! 🙂 #tosomtravels

Related Posts:

The South Gate of Angkor Thom  
Angkor Wat:  City of Temples

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