Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bayon Temple Complex, Siem Reap Cambodia

Bayon Temple
We made sure that we walked over to the Bayon Temple from Angkor Thom. The Bayon's most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and smiling stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak that some think are the King Jayvaraman VII (or J VII) and others think are Buddha.

Gallery Bas Relief
Gallery Bas Relief
The Bayon was the last state temple to be built at It was the centerpiece of J VII’s massive program of public works and monumental construction. The wall of the outer gallery features a series of bas reliefs depicting historical events and scenes from Khmer life.

Terrace of the Elephants
Elephant Stairs
After the Bayon we walked over to the Terrace of the Elephants. It served as a viewing platform for royal parties that looked across a large open area to see events which are unknown to historians and archaeologists.The terraces probably served as an observation point from which the king and his retinue could observe military reviews, dances, and various ceremonies in the large open area.

Terrace of the Leper King
Lions on the Terrace of the Leper King
Nearby is the the Terrace of the Leper King which is a decorative stone platform that also overlooks the same open space. The terrace features beautiful apsaras, Devatas and serpents and Lions carved into it. The central figure of the sculpture is probably a Khmer ruler who died of leprosy, either Yasovarman I or Jayavarman VII. No one knows.

Prasat Suor Prat Towers
Other interesting ruins in the area are the Prasat Suor Prat towers across the open field from the terraces of the Elephants and the Leper King. No one knows what the Towers were used for either. Some scientist think it might have been built for entertainment purposes relating to the possible use of the Terraces and the open field. There is some historical writings that said the towers were used as a place to hold the litigants before their trial but no one really knows. There are eleven towers.

The Terraces and towers are very impressive sights and they are easy to walk to from Angkor Thom. These ruins are definitely a worthwhile place to visit and experience.

Highly recommended!

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