4D/3N Backpacking Siem Reap : 1-Day Angkor Temples Sunrise Tour (Part 2)

Serene Bayon – The Temple of The Smiling Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

         After Angkor Wat, my sister and I went to yet another impressive temple complex in Siem Reap and that is Bayon – the temple of the smiling bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Bayon is located just to the north of Angkor Wat, within the ancient city complex of Angkor Thom. Built around 1190 AD by King Jayavarman VII, Bayon is a unique and picturesque Buddhist temple incorporated with Hindu cosmology elements.

         For your info, the Bayon temple complex rises through three levels to a height of around 43 meters. The outer gallery of extraordinary statues and intricate bas reliefs on the first level depicts scenes from everyday life and historical events. The inner gallery on the next level depicts mythical deities, figures and legendary events/stories of that era. The third level is where the famous smiling faces are. Being in the temple complex gave us an overwhelming sense of peace and serenity. Needless to say, Bayon temple is a unique and must visit place in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

The row of statues along the road to Bayon, Siem Reap

The entrance of Bayon, Siem Reap

The gateway to one of the three levels of Bayon temple, Siem Reap

Temple complex of Bayon, Siem Reap

The ruins of Bayon, Siem Reap

Balancing stones at Bayon, Siem Reap

Erika and Eva on cloud nine at Bayon, Siem Reap

The famous smiling faces of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara at Bayon, Siem Reap

Impressive Baphoun – A Steep Climb of Faith To The Top of Mount Meru

         Baphoun was the third temple that we visited after Angkot Wat and Bayon. The temple is located about 200 metres away from Bayon, and it is a single sanctuary temple-mountain situated on a high base; a symbolical representation of the sacred mountain, Mount Meru in Hindu and Buddhist cosmology. A rectangular sandstone wall encloses the temple and a long sandstone elevated path at the east entrance forms a bridge to the main temple.

         Unlike Angkor Wat and Bayon, this temple requires a difficult climb via its very steep and narrow steps to reach its summit where the view is simply breathtaking! Those who are afraid of heights might want to give this feat a miss. For the record, I nearly had a heart attack and suffer a light case of vertigo while descending the steps. Things will be much easier if there was not a long line of awkward tourists behind my back to hurry me by as I steadily made my way down with utmost care for the last thing I want is to suffer broken bones as my souvenir from Siem Reap, Cambodia! Then again, we only live once so it is worth a risk to take.

The temple-mountain of Baphoun, Siem Reap

We made it to the top – the breathtaking view from the summit of Baphoun, Siem Reap!

Ta Prohm – The Mystifying Jungle Temple

         This temple needs no introduction! Made famous after being the setting of the action-packed movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Ta Prohm is high on the must visit list of the temples by visitors in Siem Reap, Cambodia besides Angkot Wat. I personally love this temple the most not because of its popularity, but for its ethereal charm and personality. This jungle temple vibrates an aura of mystery and tranquillity at the same time that has a significant effect on me.

         Enormous fig, banyan and kapok trees spread their gigantic roots over the temple, breaking walls and terraces apart, as their branches and leaves intertwine to form a roof-like structure over the temple. This gives it a one-of-a-kind picturesque appeal to everyone who visits the temple.

A thing to do in Ta Prohm:

Look out for the smiling bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara statue hidden among the roots of a tree. We got to know about it, and found it after a kind guide pointed it out to us. To not ruin the fun, I shall let you search and discover the statue yourself. 😉

         That aside, my sister and I spent quite some time at Ta Prohm, exploring the intricate temple complex through a labyrinth of narrow passages, discovering many ruins and remnants of the once glorified Khmer civilisation in awe.
Ta Prohm jungle temple is a must visit site in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Restoration efforts at Ta Prohm to preserve the temple complex

A common sight at Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

Jungle spiders like these made their home at Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

We discovered intricate carvings on the inner part of a wall, hidden from the public through a deep passage of the temple at Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

Photo on the left: The piece of the all-seeing eye, perhaps?
Photo on the right: The roots of the banyan tree form a roof-like structure over the temple at Ta Prohm

The ruins of Ta Prohm, Siem Reap

The roots of the colossal banyan tree overwhelm a part of the temple structure in Ta Prohm, Siem Reap
When at Ta Prohm, look out for the smiling bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara statue hidden among the roots of a tree (as seen on the picture of the left)

Up next: Beautiful Banteay Srei – The Citadel of The Women

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