Bayon Temple, Angkor Thom, Cambodia

January 2012

©2012 G J Porter

Bayon Temple is the central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom.  Bayon was built around 1190 AD by King Jayavarman VII.  It is a Buddist temple but incorporates elements of Hindu cosmology.  Bayon is known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point.  The smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been called by some the "Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia."  There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own.  Bayon is surrounded by two long walls with an extraordinary collection of bas-relief scenes of legendary and historical events.