Getting In to Bayon

This post should have come earlier … to get to Bayon, you have to pass from Angkor Wat into Angkor Tom, the formal capital complex of the Khmer Empire under King Jayavarman VII. Angkor Tom is a walled city which is reached via gates to the north and south, by crossing a bridge which is lined with statues of gods on one side and demons on the other. Each group of figures is holding a seven-headed naga along the length of the bridge. (Unfortunately, most of the statues on both bridges have lost their heads over the years, and the reconstruction effort has been less than perfect.) The gates themselves are similar to the towers one sees at Bayon.


Banteay Srei

The next temple we visited was Banteay Srei, also known as the Pink Temple for the color of the sandstone with which it is built. Banteay Srei was consecrated to the Hindu god Shiva in the 10th century and fell out of use some 300 years later. It was rediscovered in 1914, and nine years later—fun fact—André Malraux stole four devata statues from the site, a stunt for which he was arrested. News of the event sparked increased interest in the site, and the authorities began clearing it the following year. Given how old it is, the carvings are in remarkable condition.

First, the outer walls and the walls of the third enclosure (there are three sets of walls in total), along with detail from the pediments.

After that, the interior of the temple grounds, including two small libraries and a sanctuary. None of the building interiors were accessible to the public, so we just walked around and looked. And looked. And looked. As physically small as the site is, there still was not enough time to absorb it all.

We can’t go without showing this happy fellow: the kala, who (according to one interpretation) is a manifestation of Shiva, representing time as the devourer of all things.