Bayon Temple


Bayon located in the centre of The Great City, was a golden tower. A Chinese official, Zhou Daguan, who was sent by Timur Khan, grandson and successor of Kublai Khan, to the court of Shrindravarman III, the Khmer Sovereign who ruled from 1295 to 1307. Zhou Daguan came to Cambodia in 1296 and return in 1297. He wrote the book upon his return to China about everyday life of ancient Cambodia. He revealed about the great city and Bayon temple that:

The wall forms a perfect square, with a stone tower at each face. At the (magical) center of the Kingdom (i.e. the central point of the city) rises a Golden Tower (Bayon) flanked by more than twenty lesser towers and several hundred stone chambers. On the eastern side is a golden bridge guarded by two lions of gold, one on each side, with eight golden Buddhas spaced along the stone chambers, North of the Golden Tower, at a distance of about two hundred yards, rises the Tower of Bronze (Baphoun), higher even than the Golden Tower: a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base. A quarter of a mile further north is the residence of the King. Rising above his private apartments is another tower of gold. These are the monuments which have caused merchants from overseas to speak so often of Cambodia the rich and noble
(Zhou Daguan 1993, p.02)

It was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat by king Jayavarman VII (1181-1220) at the late 12th century to the early 13th century. Visitors would like to visit Angkor Wat and Bayon temple. They are different in purpose, design, architecture and decoration. It was confused that Bayon was a Hindu temple that was built in the ninth century. But, after the discovery of fronton in 1925 depicting an Avalokiteshvara, identified the Bayon as a Buddhist temple. It moved the temple's date to 300 years to the late 12th century. A special decoration of Bayon is 4 faces that have such appeal to visitors and reflect the famous smile of Angkor. Its four faces represent the Bodhisttva Avalokiteshvara, in keeping with the Buddhist character of the temple. It is also accepted that the faces of each tower are images of King Jayavarman VII and signify the omnipresence of the king. Beside the faces, it has bas-reliefs, presented in both inner and outer galleries. Scene of daily life are depicted at the outer one (Rooney 2004).

Interesting Note: When the sun is nearly set, golden color of the sun will reflect to the 4 faces of Bayon. It is the most beautiful pictures of its smiling faces. Early morning the temple is very quiet, it is good time for photograph as well.