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Bayon Temple

Bayon Temple Bayon Temple

The Bayon vies with Angkor Wat the favorite monument of visitors. the two evoke similar aesthetic responses yet are different in purpose, design, architecture and decoration. The dense jungle surround the temple camouflaged its position in relation to other structures at Angkor so it was not known for some time that the Bayon stands in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom.

Even after this was known, the Bayon was erroneously connected with the city of Yasovarman I and thus dated to the ninth century. A pediment found in 1925 depicting an Avalokitesvara identified the Bayon as a Buddhist temple.

This discovery moved the date of the monument ahead some 300 years to the late twelfth century. Even though the date is firmly implanted and supported by archaeological evidence, the Bayon remains one of the most enigmatic temples of the Angkor group. Its symbolism, original form and subsequent changes and constructions have not yet been untangled.

The Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat. The basic structure and earliest part of the temple ate not known. Since it was located at the centre of a royal city it seems possible that the Bayon would have originally been a temple-mountain conforming to the symbolism of a microcosm of Mount Meru. The middle part of the temple was extended during the second phase of building. The Bayon of today belong to the third and last phase of the art style.

The architectural scale and composition of the Bayon exude grandness in every aspects. Its elements juxtapose each other to create balance and harmony.

Over 2000 large faces carved on the 54 tower give this temple its majestic character. The faces with slightly curving lips, eyes placed in shadow by the lowered lids utter not a word and yet force you to guess much, wrote P Jennerat de Beerski in the 1920s. It is generally accepted that four faces on each of the tower are images of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara and that they signify the omnipresence of the king. The characteristics of this faces - a broad forehead, downcast eyes, wild nostrils, thick lips that curl upwards slightly at the ends-combine to reflect the famous 'Smile of Angkor'.