Angkor Thom: The Bayon
Angkor Thom was the royal city built by Jayavarman VII (who probably ruled from 1181 to 1220), Buddhist king of the Khmer Empire, at the end of the 12th and beginning of the 13th centuries, after Angkor was conquered and destroyed by the Chams. Its current name, Angkor Thom, means "the great city"; its Khmer name was Mahānagara She is a witness to the greatness of the empire.
The royal city is in the form of a quadrilateral, about three kilometres long and wide, surrounded by an eight-metre high rampart bordered by a moat.
In the middle of each of the four walls of the enclosure is a monumental gate, adorned with the immense faces of one of the four Great Kings of the Hindu pantheon and the representation of Indra riding his three-headed elephant.
These four doors are connected by two perpendicular paths that meet in the centre of the enclosure where the Bayon is located. A fifth gate, the Victory Gate, is located a little north of the East Wall Gate (the Death Gate) and provided access to the Elephant Terrace of the Royal Palace, through a paved road probably intended to accommodate the victorious parades. This door is in alignment with the centre of the eastern bārāy, marked by the Mebon.
The Bayon is the central temple of the ancient city of Angkor Thom, capital of the Khmer rulers at the beginning of the 13th century. It is located at the intersection of the North-South and East-West roads.
It is the last of the "mountain temples" of the Angkor site, built by Jayavarman VII, restorer of the power of the Khmer kingdom of Angkor after the invasion of the Chams. Its decoration is of exceptional richness, at the height of Buddhist art mahāyāna, it is like a corset in an extremely small perimeter of about 150 m side for the outer enclosure. This fantastic monument with its facial towers was dedicated by the sovereign to the Buddha whose doctrine he spread.
Under the reign of Jayavarman VIII, around 1350, the temple was converted to Hinduism and the changes made added to the impression of confusion in its plan.
The name Bayon derives from the pâli Vejayant (Sanskrit Vaijayant) designating the celestial palace of the god Indra, of which, according to the legend written in Middle Khmer, Bayon is the terrestrial reflection.
All these facial towers are really impressive,
and give this place a rather strange, even unusual look.
Failing to meet a monk in the flesh, I settle for decorated statues...
Tourists in this period are not very numerous, neither are monks....
A l'extérieur, les vendeurs ambulants, vous attendent pour vous vendre des boissons fraîches… c'est leur gagne pain.
Avec la chaleur et la moiteur de l'air qui nous étouffe, une bonne bouteille d'eau presque glacée, est souvent bien appréciée après avoir arpenté les ruines...