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Smiling Faces of Bayon Temple in Angkor Thom

Updated: Feb 12, 2018



Located right in the middle of Angkor Thom, the Great City of Angkor, is Bayon Temple, a Khmer Buddhist temple from the Angkorian era. It is about 3km from Angkor Wat.


The Bayon Temple is another must-see relic outside of Angkor Wat. It is richly decorated with numerous large smiling stone "faces" carved on the towers on the upper terrace of the temple. There were about 200 faces, believed to be of some Buddhas or the ancient kings.

More about Bayon Temple on wikipedia.


The wide view of Bayon Temple is a sight not to be missed.



The ground level of the temple has Buddha statues that sit and look outward from the temple.



Notice the number of devatas (standing deities) and apsaras (dancing minor deities) motifs around the Buddhas? There are single apsaras, dual and also triple in a single motifs.



More about devatas & apsaras:

Bewitched by Devatas & Apsaras of Ancient Angkor


The smiling stone faces on "face" towers are above the temple. The towers crowded the upper level and leaving a narrow passageway. Historians believed that the compactness of the towers were not part of the original design but were added to the temple at later stage.



The temple used to have 49 towers standing at one point in time, but only 37 remained today. Each tower originally had 4 faces. All the faces are smiling and look serene — when looked from a distance, their eyes seemed to be closed.



There are those with open eyes too.



When taking photos with the "faces", do not be disrespectful or climb on any stone slabs with bas-reliefs, the watchmen on duty may reprimand and chase "offenders" out of the temple. Standing "taller" than the faces, or through camera tricks, is an act of disrespect to the Buddhas.



And the tallest central tower that was surrounded by all the face towers.



The tower originally housed a 3.6m tall Buddha statue but was smashed into pieces during Hindu-reign in the ancient era. The statue was recovered and restored but displayed in a pavilion somewhere in Angkor.


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Read also:

Main Highlights of Angkor Wat in 1 Day

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