Angkor Thom and Bayon

Angkor Thom, a city built in the late 12th century by a Buddhist king, was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Angkor Thom and Bayon, the temple at the center of Angkor Thom, have towers with faces in the four cardinal directions. A tower with faces is shown above. Temples built earlier have towers without faces.

Angkor Thom is a square that is 3 km on each side, surrounded by a city wall and moat. Angkor Thom is mostly jungle now, since only the stone wall and temples survived. Shown below, a tuk-tuk speeds through the north gate. A tuk-tuk is a motorcycle pulling a 2-wheeled carriage for four passengers. To capture the speeding tuk-tuk as a blur, I used an exposure time of 1/30 second. Note that the face on the tower above the gate is larger than the tuk-tuk.

tuk-tuk speeds through north gate of Angkor Thom
tuk-tuk speeds through north gate of Angkor Thom (click to enlarge)

Like other temples, Bayon sits on a raised platform, with towers in the center surrounded by a gallery.

Bayon (click to enlarge)

Inside the gallery is a courtyard. The towers are on another raised platform. In the lower left corner, some sandstone blocks have moved, exposing the laterite blocks below. As with other temples, the laterite core is faced with sandstone.

courtyard (click to enlarge)

In a dark gallery, a stone framed by several intervening doorways is illuminated by the low rays of the setting sun. To shoot the dimly lit scene handheld, I increased the ISO so the exposure time was faster than 1/focal length.

stone lit by setting sun
stone lit by setting sun

Some photos of towers with faces that characterize Angkor Thom and Bayon. All the faces are the same, perhaps of a king seeking live on forever in his temple.

Finally, apsaras (beautiful, supernatural female beings skilled in the art of dancing) is part of the decorations at the Elephant Court, an area where the king reviewed his armies. The Khmer and others used elephants for war, and elephants are a sign of royalty in Southeast Asia, just as lions are associated with European royalty.

apsaras near Elephant Court
apsaras near Elephant Court

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I enjoy travel, art, food, photography, nature, California native plants, history, and yoga. I am a retired software engineer. The gravatar is a Nuttall's woodpecker that visited our backyard.

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