Cambodia: The Temples
Around 800 years ago, Angkor Thom was a thriving city of around 100,000 people that centered around the temple of Bayon.
Solin explaining the layout of the ancient city of Angkor Thom to us.
The entire 9 sq. km city was surrounded by a moat. A bridge leads over the moat into the entry gate.
The bridge leading to the south gate of Angkor Thom.The bridge is guarded by a row of gods on the west side and demons on the east. Both sides are holding a giant 7-headed serpent called Naga. In Hindu mythology, the gods and demons engaged in a great tug-or-war with each other, each side pulling on Naga and in the process churning a great sea of milk, which created all the life on Earth.
A row of gods grace the west side of the bridge. Many of the heads have been replaced and are in much better shape than the remaining originals.
Grumpy demons line the east side.
Giant heads mark the 4 cardinal points at the top of the gate. The heads of three elephants eating lotus flowers adorn each side of the entryway. There is a row of sitting Buddahs between the elephants and the giant heads.
The south gate into Angkor Thom.
Isaac and Glenn in front of South Gate, with the giant face of Jaravarman VII, the builder of many of these ancient temples, looking over our shoulders.
Bayon temple, built around 1200 A.D. by Jayavarman VII. There are 54 pillars in this temple, all with giant faces looking north, south, east and west.
Some of the many pillars of Bayon Temple.
Bayon was our guide's favorite temple. The interior walls of the temple, now roofless and exposed to the elements, are covered with elaborate bas reliefs. Solin interpreted the carvings for us. They depict historical battles, everyday Khmer life, and important events in Hindu/Buddhist mythology.
Michele, Glenn, and Isaac inside the temple.
desire to build pillars is still with us, as evidenced by the
spontaneous cairns left in the back of the temple by anonymous visitors.