Bayon Temple: Blend of Buddhism and Hinduism

Temples of Asia | | November 1, 2010 at 12:38 am


This is the top most attraction in one of the most beloved ancient cities in Cambodia – Angkor Thom. Nestled to the north of the Angkor Wat temple, the splendid Bayon temple is dedicated to the Buddhism making it a sacred place of worship for the Buddhists. However, surprisingly, it also has unveiled the aspects of Hindu mythology as well their understanding of the cosmic world. Rising precisely in the center of the walled town, the temple was erected by the King Jayavarman VII in 1190 A.D.

It is not only this 12th century that is sacred; it is also the city of Angkor Thom that is constructed to reveal a symbolic scene. The rim of the city forms a square layout whose each side is parallel in each of the four directions and the central location of the temple within it denotes the intersection of the Earth and paradise.

But, what is so unique of the Bayon temple duet to which many tourists are attracted towards it? Well, it is the set of those four alluring colossal faces of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara carved entirely from stones. Forming a great scene, a set of these four figurines is seen in all its 51 small towers that surround the area. As per the smile on the face, the experts and Buddhists believe it to be the image of Jayavarman. Surprisingly, many have entitled these statues as the Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia.

The exterior of the Bayon temple holds two protective long walls whose bas-reliefs never fail to captivate the minds of the visitors. These reliefs show off the different scenes related to the history. Occupying some 1.2 km of the wall, you can gaze at over 11,000 carved episodes that are believed to be formerly painted and embellished with gold. Just discover them in clockwise direction as you enter the temple from the east gate. Some of the most stunning ones are listed below.

  • The Chams on the Run:
    This depicts the triumph of the king, Jayavarman VII against the Chams.
  • Linga Worship:
    This is where you will see the disciples bending in front of Lord Shiva’s phallic form. As per a research, the revered entity was formerly a Buddha, which was then converted to Shiva by a Hindu ruler.
  • A Naval Battle:
    Regarded as among the best sculpted scenes, it shows the battle at Tonle Sap Lake along with the daily life scenes at the lake side.

  • The Vanquished Chams:
    This one depicts the beaten Chams on the shore. It also holds several ordinary pictures such as a cockfight, women selling fish, and chess.
  • Military Procession:
    Well, this one is incomplete and represents the elephants being leaded in the mountains.
  • Civil War:
    This depicts a few folks tackling each other.
  • The All-seeing King:
    This is the relief of some interesting scenes in which a big fish is feeding on an antelope and that there is an inscription that says about the king’s search for the ones who have escaped.
  • Victory Parade:
    This relief shows a procession in which a king is with a bow.
  • A Khmer Circus:
    Adorning the northern wall, here you will come across a tough man carrying three dwarfs, a standing group of tightrope hikers, and a man using his feet and back to rotate a wheel. And yes, the relief also reveals a royal court that is watching all these scenes from a terrace.
  • A Bountiful Land:
    This marks many rivers packed with several fishes.
  • The Chams Retreat:
    This legend adorns the maximum part of the north wall.
  • The Chams Sack Angkor:
    This panel is the pride of the east wall and its scenically indicates the battle of 1177 in which the city of Angkor was conquered as well as plundered. Just have a look at above the war scenes wherein the incompetent Khmers are portrayed as being drunk.
  • The Chams Enter Angkor:
    In this event, two armies are shown, which met each other before the king’s triumph that is seen in the #1 bas relief.

Open from sunrise to sunset, the Bayon temple charges entrance fees: $20 per day, $40 for three, and $60 per week.

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