Angkor Thom East Gate, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Dancers at the Sofitel Hotel
Temples Cambodia 2015
The Bayon, Angkor Thom
Bayon - Late 12th Century
Originally the temple was adorned with some 200 giant smiling faces but no one knows whose face they represent. There are a number of theories. The most common I hear is that it is a composite of Buddha and Jayavarman VII, Angkor's most prolific builder and king. Yet others believe that it's Lokesvara the Buddhist embodiment of compassion. To the locals it is known as Prohm the Khmer pronunciation of Brahma who represents the the Hindu God of Creation. If you stare at the face long enough it goes from gentle to just a little bit sinister.
Angkor Thom East Gate, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Baphuon, Phimeanakas, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Samre, Banteay Srei, Sofitel Hotel
East Gate, Angkor Thom
Apsaras, Ta Prohm
East Entrance, Ta Prohm
Dancing Apsaras, Bayon
Heavenly Nymph, Ta Prohm
Stonework, Ta Prohm
Western Gate, Ta Prohm
All Alone, Ta Prohm
West Entrance, Ta Prohm
Collapsed Bridge & Kids
West Gate, Ta Prohm
Thommanon & Chau Say Tavoda
Thommanon & Chau Say Tavoda - 12th Century
Set along the road not too far from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom it is believed by scholars that these may have been roadside rest houses.
2 of the 54 Faces, Bayon
Monkey God, Bayon
Posing at the Bayon
Buddha & Apsaras, Bayon
Elephant & Mahout, Angkor Thom
Smiling Monk, Angkor Wat
Baphuon, Angkor Thom
Baphuon - 11th Century
Set just behind the Elephant Terrace, Baphuon remains hidden in plain sight. This imposing temple hunkers down amongst the foliage and some how seems to stay out of sight for most visitors. In the early morning the only sounds came from parrots wheeling through the treetops and me swearing as i tripped over everything whilst sizing up this behemoth. Initially a Hindu shrine it became Buddhist after several hundreds of years.
North East Corner, Baphuon
Phimeanakas, Angkor Thom
Phimeanakas - 11th Century
After spending time at Baphuon I exited through a beautiful gate on to the grounds of the former Royal Temple. Whereas Baphuon is set amongst the forest like a stranded battleship, huge and grey, Phimeanakas glowed in the early morning light. King Jayavarman VII is said to have worshipped here and that each evening a nine headed serpent would take on the form of a beautiful woman and to preserve the royal line he was required to sleep with her. If he didn't the line would be broken and he would die without a successor. Then he'd retire to his wife and concubines.
Apsara Dancers, Sofitel Hotel
Apsaras, The Heavenly Nymphs
Carvings of Apsaras adorn the columns and walls of many of the temples and every single one is unique. The days of the Khmer Rouge nearly put an end to this style of dancing as the regime banned dancing and killed the dance teachers. Very few dance instructors survived those terrible times but the ones that lived on have passed this art on to a new generation.
These dancers are performing at the Sofitel Phokeethra Hotel in Siem Reap
Apsara Dancers II, Sofitel Hotel
Dancing Apsaras, Sofitel Hotel
Dancers Performing at the Sofitel Hotel, Siem Reap
Looking In from Outside, Sofitel Hotel, Siem Reap
Looking in from Outside II, Sofitel Hotel
Banter Samre - mid 12th Century
A less visited temple some 40 minutes from Siem Reap by tuk tuk. Set amongst palms with a small village close by, Banteay Samrey is everything a temple should be. It's mysterious, incredibly detailed and apparently the only one to have an internal moat plus a mix of Hindu and Buddhist carvings.
Detail, Banteay Samre