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Showing posts with the label Angkor Thom

The Faces of Bayon

Bayon was built in the late 12th or early 13th century by Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist temple in the center of Angkor Thom, the capital of the Khmer empire. There are more than 200 facial sculptures on 37 surviving towers. Four faces are carved in each tower staring at four different directions. These faces are believed to be the bodhisatva of compassion, Avalokitesvara or Lokeshvara.

There are studies suggesting that the faces in the temple are similar to that of Jayavarman VII from existing statues of him. This is not far fetched in light of the traditional belief among Khmer rulers that they were devaraja (god-king), but unlike other rulers who practiced Hinduism, Jayavarman VII was a Buddhist and would have aligned himself with Buddha and the bodhisattva (enlightenment being).
Khmer army marching to battle
Bas reliefs cover the walls of  Bayon in exquisite detail. There are scenes of battles, celebrations after the battle, everyday life, the next life. It's a picture bo…

Ta Prohm

Of the many amazing temples I saw in Siem Reap, Ta Prohm is definitely my favorite. It seems on the verge of collapse under the weight of the roots of towering trees. The scent of decay is pronounced and more so after a tropical downpour. While seeking refuge inside one of the temple structures, we were enveloped by an oppressive and dank air which no amount of incense could erode. But this is to be expected of an enclosed space that is being choked by its surroundings.

There's so much drama in this jungle which is why I like it the most. Piles of stones are everywhere. Moss and lichen cover the walls and roots the size of an elephant wrap over and around the structures. Built in 1186 as a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII (the greatest ruler/builder of the Khmer empire), it was abandoned until the 16th century when Portuguese explorers visited the Angkor complex.  

The jungle has been tamed but there are many traces of its past existence. In these grounds th…