Beautiful Cambodia – A day @ The Ancient City, Part 1

Our day 2 in Siem Reap is the highlight and main purpose of the trip, the visit to The Ancient city of Angkor.

We started the journey of the day arranged by Sotravuth (Mr) of Asian Overland Services with our lovely tour guide, Han (Mr) by getting our photos taken and collect our pass for the day.

Our first stop is Angkor Thom (អង្គរធំ; Great City), the city that was founded by Angkor’s greatest king, Jayayarman VII (reigned 1181 – 1219) who came to power following the defeat of the former Khmer capital by the Chams. At its height, Angkor Thom may have governed a population of one million people in the surrounding area.

Lies on the west bank of the Siem Reap River, a tributary of Tonle Sap, Angkor Tom is in the Bayon style where the face-towers of each of the entrances to the city. Angkor Thom was built in a nearly perfect square, the sides of which run north to south and east to west. It is surrounded by a square wall (jayagin) 8m high and 12 km in length. It is further protected by a 100m-wide moat (now dry), said to have contained ferocious crocodiles.

A gate opens exactly in the middle of each wall, from which a bridge extends over the moat to the area outside the royal city. The original royal palace at Angkor Thom, built in the 10th and 11th centuries was probably built of wood and no longer stands.

We started our tour from the South Gate, an impressive stone walkway with carved elephants and four giant faces. At either side of the entrance are drawn from the ranks of 54 –s of the gods or demons holding the sacred Naga Snake.

We stop for photos at the Gate.

We made another short stop at a small area to learn about the rocks that is being used in the build of the area.

We continue our journey by exploring the temple of Bayon (ប្រាសាទបាយ័ន, Prasat Bayon), the official state temple of Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII stands at the heart of the city of Angkor Thom. This beautiful monument – 54 tower with four faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire. Following Jayavarman’s death, it was then modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.

The temple of Bayon is also known to represents the intersection of heaven and earth. Known for its huge stone faces of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with one facing outward and keeping watch at each compass point. The curious smiling image, thought by many to be a portrait of Jayavarman himself, has been dubbed by some the “Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia.” There are 51 smaller towers surrounding Bayon, each with four faces of its own.

The Bayon’s most distinctive features is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes. The current main conservatory body, the Japanese Government Team for the Safeguarding of Angkor (the JSA) has described the temple as “the most striking expression of the baroque style” of Khmer architecture, as contrasted with the classical style of Angkor Wat.

At the entrance of Bayon

Beautiful stone carving

Beautiful monument of four faces representation of the Great Khmer Empire

Interesting and impressive stones faces and towers to be explored

The place was crowded and it was indeed a hot and humid day, however, the beautiful sight was worth it. After a long walk around and down the steep stairway, we ended our memorable visit of Bayon.

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