Tag Archives: Ruins

Bayon Temples Cambodia -216 smiling faces

Bayon temples – 216 gigantic faces

Welcome to the Bayon temples, built end of the 12th Century. The Bayon temples feature 216 faces, a nearly surreal masterpiece unlike any I’d ever seen. Bayon stands at the centre of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom, in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Bayon temples, along with Angkor Wat and Ta Prohm, are easily the best 1-2 day trip you can take in southeast Asia. Here’s a 29 photo tour:

Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom
Reflections of Bayon in Angkor Thom. Brilliant photo by Mike Behnken
Bayon temples in the Angkor Thom area of Siem Reap, Cambodia near Angkor Wat
it’s 90-degrees fahrenheit, but I kept reading about killer mosquitos. They said it’s crucial to get vaccinated, and cover yourself from head to toe.

Who are the faces of?  They Bayon faces are said represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions, or even the king himself. Here’s the explanation:

Initially the faces were believed to represent Brahma, the Hindu God of creation depicted with four heads. When it was later established that the Bayon was not a Hindu temple but a Buddhist one, archeologists believed the faces to be of Lokeshvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion. The similarity of statues of Jayavarman VII and the face towers had led some to believe that it is the King himself whose face is depicted on the towers.

Bayon Cambodia -003

History:  Bayon was the state temple of Jayavarman VII, a powerful ruler in the late 13th century (Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII). The temple sat at the center of Angkor Thom, a walled city that served as the capital of the Khmer Empire.

There are 216 gigantic faces on the Bayon temple towers, in the Angkor Thom area of Siem Reap, Cambodia near Angkor Wat
There are 216 gigantic faces on the Bayon temple towers

There are 216 gigantic faces on the Bayon temple towers, measuring as tall as 7 feet just for the face, across 37 towers.

The white and green spots on the face are lichen (fungus, green alga).
The white and green spots on the face sculptures are lichen (fungus, green alga).
Photo by Tartarin2009

The Bayon temple was “intended to evoke the form of Mt. Meru—the cosmic mountain at the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. In keeping with this cosmic symbolism, the plan of the temple is based on a ‘yantra’, a symbol used by Tantric Buddhists as the basis of mandala diagrams that represent the layout of the universe. The temple honored not just one deity, but a host of gods found throughout the Khmer empire. Its central shrine held an image of Jayavarman VII, who perhaps imagined himself as a god-King ruling in the name of the Buddha” [source]

Bayon temples, built end of the 12th Century, capital of the Khmer Empire , Cambodia
Welcome to Bayon, built at the end of the 12th Century, capital of the Khmer Empire
our guide explains how the bas-relief is showing Khmer soldiers going to war
our guide explains how the bas-relief is showing Khmer soldiers going to war

our guide explains how the bas-relief is showing Khmer soldiers going to war

Facing in four directions on each Bayon tower, the faces are thought to represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions.. Cambodia
Facing in four directions on each tower, the faces are thought to represent Lokeshvara, a Buddhist deity that projected benevolence outward to the four directions.
Bayon In the Golden Hour Bayon temples in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
photo by Lee Phelps Photography
Aspara dancers at the Bayon temples Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Aspara dancers
great photos of the Bayon temples in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
so many great photos of the Bayon temples in Angkor Thom
photo from from the vantage point of the Bayon temple's the upper terrace, Cambodia
photo from from the vantage point of the Bayon temple’s the upper terrace
Bayon temples at Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia, near Angkor Wat
photo by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra
Smiling face of Avalokiteshvara at the Bayon temples at Angkor Thom, Cambodia
Smiling face of Avalokiteshvara
nearly every wall of the Bayon temples were sculpted. Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
nearly every wall of the Bayon temples are sculpted
Central structure tower of Bayon, in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
Central structure tower of Bayon
A scene from the eastern gallery shows a Khmer army on the march in the Cambodia ruins
A scene from the eastern gallery shows a Khmer army on the march
scene from the outer gallery at the Bayon temples. Our guide said it shows Chinese expats negotiating with Khmer merchants at an Angkorean market.
This scene is from the outer gallery at the Bayon temples. Our guide said it shows Chinese expats negotiating with Khmer merchants at an Angkorean market.

walls of Angkor Thom in Cambodia walls of Bayon in Angkor Thom in Cambodia

face to face at the Bayon temples
face to face at the Bayon temples of Angkor Thom near Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia

faces of the Bayon temples, in the Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in Cambodiafaces of the Bayon temples, in the Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in Cambodia -014

my face between the faces of the Bayon temples, in the Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in Cambodia

wide shot of the Bayon temples in Angkor Thom, Siem Reap, Cambodia
photo from Tushar Dayal

faces of the Bayon temples, in the Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in Cambodiafaces of the Bayon temples, in the Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in CambodiaBayon temples in Angkor Thom are an impressive display of Khmer architecture

entrance to Bayon temples, in the Bayon complex - Bayon ruins in Angkor Wat Angkor Thom area in Cambodia
entrance to Bayon temples area

I’ve included links to learn more of the history of the Bayon temples at the center of Angkor Thom, in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

How to get there: it’s a short flight from Bangkok, Thailand. Do it!

Amazing Angkor Wat in Photos

35 photo tour of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat temples

Angkor Wat is one of the most impressive sites in the world, and was immediately a highlight of my southeast Asia trip. The temples are breathtaking!  While you need to visit them in Cambodia to appreciate it, below is a photo tour of the experience.

Angkor Wat at sunrise
Angkor Wat at sunrise. This brilliant photo is from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff at Stuck in Customs

Angkor Wat is located in Siem Reap, in Cambodia. Along with Angkor Thom, Bayon, and Ta Prohm, Angkor might be the best two-day trip you can take in all of Asia.

Angkor Wat, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Angkor Wat was built by the vanished Khmer empire. It was constructed during the reign of King Suryavarman II, who ruled from 1113 to at least 1145.

the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
the walls of Angkor Wat are filled with details carvings, each depicting the rich history
Angkor Wat in Cambodia
photo by JonJon Pascua
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
Buddhist monk explores Angkor Wat
The Library at Angkor Wat.
The Library at Angkor Wat. Photo from one of my favorite travel photographers, Trey Ratcliff
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
There are more than 1,860 carved Apsara dancers in Angkor Wat.
Angkor Wat entrance - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
The Battle of Kurukshetra is the subject of this bas-relief at Angkor Wat.
Count the arms...VERY powerful!
Count the arms…VERY powerful!

Scholars say the temples of Angkor Wat were built for funerary purposes, since its bas-reliefs are meant to be viewed anti-clockwise, a direction that was associated with death in the Khmer empire. This is Angkor’s only temple with tombs, despite the “Tomb Raider” movie being shot at nearby Ta Prohm, where there’s no tombs.

naga - the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
naga – the long causeway is decorated with mythical snake-like animals called naga
 this stone sculptures depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha - Angkor Wat at Visit50.com
This stone sculpture depicts the 8 arms of Vishnu, the powerful Hindu god, but with the head of Buddha. When Angkor Wat became a Buddhist temple, the head of Vishnu was replaced with the head of Buddha.

“Angkor Wat” translates to “The city that is a temple.”

a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a devata graces the walls in Angkor Wat. Devata is another word for deva, the Hindu term for deity
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a youthful monk learns to read the future
a monk at - Angkor Wat - Visit50.com
They say Angkor Wat took 30 years to build, which seems like a long time, until you see all the rich detail on nearly every wall

Angkor is located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Siem Reap literally translates to ‘defeat of Siam,’ which is today’s Thailand. It’s a conflict that goes back centuries, between the Siamese and Khmer people.

Raided. They stole the heads!
Raided. They stole the heads!

 

"Angkor Wat" translates to The city that is a temple - Visit50.com
“Angkor Wat” translates to The city that is a temple
Cambodian wedding photo shoot
Cambodian wedding photo shoot. I saw wedding photo shoots both times I visited, so perhaps it’s a popular spot for wedding photos.
Anchor Wat was under repair when we went
under repair when we went – the green tarps typically aren’t there

reflection of the temple towers in Siem Reap, Cambodia - Visit50.com

The walls of Ankor Wat tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past - Visit50.com
The temple walls tell stories of war heroes and battles from their troubled past
Ankor Wat and the reflecting pond
my first time in Cambodia and the reflecting pond

amazing Angkor Wat - temples in Cambodia
Photo from ITLWMT

temple - Visit50.com

"Library" - their true purpose remains unknown. Most likely they functioned broadly as religious shrines rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
“Library”. While its true purpose remains unknown, scholars say it most likely functioned broadly as a religious shrine, rather than strictly as repositories of manuscripts
devata at the entrance
devatas at the entrance
guarding the walls
guarding the walls of Angkor Wat
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The walls at the entrance are 8 meters high and 3 km long, and flanked by a moat.
The "swimming pool" - looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
The “swimming pool” – looks good for being 1000 yrs old!
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
Cruciform gallery separating the courtyards
look closely at everything - from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
look closely at everything – from a distance this looked like a pile of rocks
tower - Visit50.com
closeup of one of the towers at Angkor Wat

Impressive Petra!

Petra, one of the 7 Wonders of the World

Petra in Jordan is impressive – established sometime in the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans – they carved the entire city out of the rock. They didn’t build columns – they kept carving the rock until they had columns. Given the back-story, it’s some of the most impressive architecture I’ve seen.  I highly recommend visiting Petra.

The Monastery at Petra, The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic), in Jordan
The Monastery of Petra, (aka Ad-Dayr or Ad-Deir in Arabic)

Petra was named one of the new seven wonders of the world in 2007; it was  declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1985.

The Monastery is massive - Petra, Jordan
The Monastery is massive! Petra, Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") at the ruins in Jordan
at the Siq, the narrow passageway to Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”)

You may recognize this spot (above photo) in Petra from the film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. The movie’s fictional “Canyon of the Crescent Moon” was modeled on this 250-foot-high (76-meter-high) sandstone slot canyon known as the Siq, which that leads directly to Al Khazneh (the Treasury). Siq pictured above.

in front of Al Khazneh ("The Treasury") in Petra, Jordan
in front of Al Khazneh (“The Treasury”) in Jordan

Established possibly as early as 312 BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, the site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage”.

camel at the ruins in Jordan

Indiana Jones and the  Last Crusade – where was Petra featured?

At the film’s climactic final scenes, Harrison Ford and Sean Connery burst forth from the Siq and walk deep into the labyrinths of the Treasury in their quest to find the Holy Grail. But, as usual, archaeological fact bowed to Hollywood fiction when Indy came to Petra.

In reality, the Treasury is nothing more than a facade with a relatively small hall once used as a royal tomb.-Nat Geo

petra by photo by seetheholyland.net
photo by seetheholyland.net

There are dozens of tombs and other carved or constructed structures and sites within Petra.

photo by Maureen

Petra!

Petra’s located in Jordan, in the Middle East. Other highlights of my trip to Jordan included the Dead Sea and the Wadi Rum desert.

Petra – singing from the mountain top

We stopped to enjoy the view of impressive Petra during our hike up, and stopped to appreciate a woman singing at the top of the mountain. It was one of those moments where she’s singing loudly at the top of the cliff, with her voice echoing all the way down to where we stopped, but nobody else seemed to notice.

If you know what she’s singing about, or even what language she’s singing in (Arabic?) please do let me know in the comments.

Roman acoustics – ancient Gerasa’s surprisingly modern technology

I’m continually impressed by the sophistication of technology from years back. Most theaters have points marked before a performance on where to stand, but this was done for acoustics. The Romans built this theater in such a way that there’s a point in the front where simply talking will be loud enough for the whole audience to hear, as if you’re speaking into a microphone with speakers. Natural amplification!  Do modern theaters and public speaking places do this?  Obviously I tried it – while we were talking I stepped on the marked square and people that were in the upper deck could hear me without raising my voice. I wish I had a photo of the startled look of the tourists taking photos from the top. See below.

Ancient Gerasa – Roman ruins in Jordan

My first stop on the road trip through Jordan was Jerash, which includes the ancient city founded by the Romans in the 1st century BCE  (called Gerasa at the time). It’s my first time seeing a city that was part of the Decapolis (Greek: Deca = 10, Polis =
town/city), a grouping of ten towns in what is now Jordan, Syria and northern Israel.