Situated in the heart of Angkor Thom, Bayon was dedicated to Buddha.
Originally known as Jayagiri, it was renamed Banyan Temple due to religious thinking believing that the Buddha attained enlightenment while meditating under a Banyan tree and the proximity of many banyan trees.
It is believed that during restoration work, Khmer workers mispronounced the name as Bayon and so we have the modern name.
Bayon provides more shade than other temples around Angkor so can be visited at any time of the day. It can get very busy at times, especially as the temple is made up of many chambers, passageways and stairways which can cause congestion at busier times.
Bayon should be considered as one of the “must-see” temples within the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Construction was started by King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist temple, was converted to a Hindhu temple by King Jayavarman VIII and eventually became a Theravada Buddhist temple.
The temple is most known for the 216 stone faces throughout the temple which may all be depictions of King Jayavarman VIII. Alternatively they may depict Lokesvara who is believed to embody the compassion of all Buddhas.
Bayon has a very different architectural style to most other temples in the area which can be partly, but not fully, explained on the numerous modifications made over the centuries.
Unlike most temples there is no moat surrounding Bayon. Instead the temple relies on its location at the centre of Angkor Thom and the protection provided outside of the city walls.
Most temples, including others in the Angkor area, orientated towards one of the compass points. Bayon however has no real orientation with towers pointing in all directions and with no consistent design.
There are two galleries forming enclosures within the temple depicting battle scenes, historical events, domestic life as well as mythological tales.
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