Bayon Temple, Cambodia

Down in the labyrinth, beyond the soaring light, I found a place of contemplation. Dust particles danced on the one weak shaft of light that managed to pierce its way through. Settled in the nook of a once-window-in-the-wall or perhaps once-home-for-a-Buddha I looked across the small sheltered courtyard. This place at the centre of everything felt right. Far above me, in the heat of the afternoon amused entities observed the tourist traffic at the foot of their towers—their eyes ever open to the world, their lips cast in chuckles and half-smirks.

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Bayon temple is situated exactly 1.5 km away from its four monument gates. It lies at the centre of the extinct ancient city Angkor Thom. The temple is one of the largest Mahayana Buddhist temples in the Angkor complex and one of the newest. It was built in the late 12th century (1181-1220) during the reign of Jayavarman VII.

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It is said that the Bayon temple was the last great stone temple to be built by the Khmer (name for the ancestors of the people of Cambodia) in the Angkor period. Then the temple was lost to the jungle as the country fell into decline.

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Its serene faces and 49 towers would not be seen again until 1916 when a French team set out to restore the crumbled temple. Their work was interrupted when war ravaged the country in 1970.

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Personally I was more fascinated by Bayon than Angkor Wat. The intricate symbols were mesmerizing and the enormous faces spellbinding. What must they have looked like at their prime, before war, nature and time wore at their faces like every mortal thing?

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What did these gentle giants want to say to the future?

Idolize your women?

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Or maybe, spirituality is at the heart of everything?

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I sure don’t know, but it’s fun to stop and take a moment to think about it.

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