“The Bayon”

Cambodia November 2016 (15 photos)

Prasat Bayon (The Bayon) is one of the most recognised temples of Angkor. It was built in the late 12th to early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII.

The temple is renowned for its numerous towers, each decorated with an enigmatic face on all 4 sides.



The numerous intricate Bas-Reliefs seem to play second fiddle to the faces but are a star attraction in their own right.


If you have visited The Bayon, you’ll know how hard it is to get photos without people in them. Against the odds, I think I did well. One of the benefits of having my own guide to support me.


The faces just seem to induce a state of serenity that pervades one’s senses whilst at the temple.



As I mentioned in my previous post Lignum Draco and the Temples of Doom, the mix of editing styles is deliberate.


The Bayon is oriented to the East and stands in the exact centre of the walled Capital City of Angkor Thom. Most visitors enter Angkor Thom via the South Gate.


“The South Gate of Angkor Thom”

The road to the South Gate leads over a moat and is a 3D representation of the Hindu story of the “Churning of the Ocean of Milk”. There are 54 Gods on one side and 54 Demons on the other.

You can see that some of the statues have been restored.


The Churning of the Ocean of Milk was an elaborate process. Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and Vasuki, the king of serpents, who abides on Shiva’s neck, became the churning rope. The demons demanded to hold the head of the snake, while the gods, taking advice from Vishnu, agreed to hold its tail. As a result, the demons were poisoned by fumes emitted by Vasuki. Despite this, the gods and demons pulled back and forth on the snake’s body alternately, causing the mountain to rotate, which in turn churned the ocean. When the mountain was placed on the ocean, it began to sink. Vishnu, in the form of a turtle Kurma, came to their rescue and supported the mountain on his back.

Of course there are other interesting things to see inside Angkor Thom, apart from The Bayon.


“The Terrace of the Elephants”


“The Terrace of the Leper King”


Remember, these were all hand carved.



A Hindu temple built in the mid 11th Century.

Before we exit Angkor Thom, I’ve been recently made aware of a theory regarding the ancient Khmer temples of Angkor. It seems that if a line is drawn on a map connecting the major temples of Angkor, starting at Angkor Wat and passing through Angkor Thom, the resultant drawing resembles a northern sky star constellation.

And the name of this constellation?

– – – DRACO – – –

What are the chances of that? No wonder I have wanted to visit for so long and enjoyed the trip so much.


“The North Gate of Angkor Thom”

By the way, even though I have only just returned to blogging since my last post in December, I have not been lounging around. Rather, I have been hard at work, and my reward is that I’m now due for another holiday, next week in fact. So no posts from me next week while I’m off on another adventure of sorts. Apologies in advance.

Edit: Once again, I am able to link to my friend Paula’s Thursday Challenge about Selective Focus. My photo of the row of faces at the Terrace of The Leper King suits the challenge well.

Leica Etcetera, Photography Etcetera

Lignum Draco and the Temples of Doom (2)


110 thoughts on “Lignum Draco and the Temples of Doom (2)

  1. Great post, again, Draco. I knew about Angkor Wat and the Cygnus connection, didnt know about Draco! Indeed, no wonder you have felt drawn to go there. Look forward to the next selection.

  2. Brilliant editing style, giving the photos of the context of another era. Love that fun piece of trivia at the end. Perhaps you felt like you were walking amongst the starts and something out of this world visiting Prasat Bayon πŸ™‚ Happy travels. Stay safe, be good πŸ™‚

    • Thank you. The vintage processing style suits these ancient temples. I guess it helps to remain flexible when deciding how you’re going to process photos and adapt to the subject.
      The Bayon is a special place. Well worth a visit.

  3. What a wonderful post – excellent editing…..and you have given me another excellent Virtual Tour! I would be in my element in a place like this, but alas it is not to be….

  4. You captured the majesty of the place! The close shots of the stone face are remarkable. And, the name of this constellation–DRACO, Awesome! πŸ™‚
    Thank you for the virtual tour. Enjoy your hiking, Dragon!

    • Thank you, Amy. You can’t help but feel serenity and awe at the same time whilst at The Bayon.

      Yes, the Draco Constellation. Look up in the night sky on the next clear night and you’ll see me. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

  5. Those faces. I sort of crossed Angkor off my list of places to go, because of the crowds, but your photos have changed my mind. Did your guide get you in extra early so you could take photos without people?

    • Angkor is one of the most popular tourist destinations currently. Thousands visit daily from about November to February. A good guide will know when to visit particular temples to avoid the tourist groups. I kept to the normal hours and saw most of the major temples without too much of a crowd. My guide had no problem with asking people to move out of the way of my shots. πŸ™‚ This doesn’t work at Angkor Wat – there is no “quiet” period.

      I believe that if you are an accredited photographer and seek permission in advance you may be granted early entry to the temples. I believe a “payment” would be necessary.

      Consider going in the off peak season for smaller crowds, as long as heat and rain doesn’t bother you.

  6. I finally found you again and oh what a wondrous photo journey you took me on. Your skills never cease to amaze me. I felt I had entered the temple. I know I felt the air. Terrific work.

  7. tutto questo Γ¨ impressionante e molto affascinante …perΓ² mi lascia dentro molta inquietudine, non saprei ben spiegati il motivo
    le immagini sono straordinarie!
    somo curiosa per il prox itinerario
    felice notte Annalisa

  8. Stunning images. I have seen photos of Angkor many times, but never realised all the details in those rocks – the faces, the elephants, the beautiful carvings. Thank you for taking me to a place that I shall never see for real.

  9. The constellation connection is interesting, I guess that is why you had to go. πŸ™‚
    I love the photos of course, the texture of them is just interesting to me, photographing stone is just something that I have always been drawn to.
    Have fun on your next adventure.

    • Thank you. The carvings and the weathering of the stones made for a lot of texture. I think the vintage cream look adds to the sense of age and decay of the stones, more so than simple B?W.

      There are forces in this World we don’t understand. It was quite the surprise to find out about the connection with the Draco Constellation. πŸ™‚

      • You had written about your choice to go with vintage cream, and I have to agree, I do think it adds a sense of age. What is interesting to me about that is that it did not take away from the texture since sometimes I think that cream does that.

        • You’re right. I did have to play around with exposure, contrast and clarity after adding the monochrome cream colour to get the texture back, compared to a straight B/W conversion.

  10. Nice to see you back blogging! Great photos and post! What adventure Draco now you also have the name of a constellation no wonder there is so much magic in your photography! πŸ˜‰ I am looking forward to your next post! πŸ™‚ Carolina

  11. I just wanted to stand there and smile back at all those faces! There’s one particular image(the 4th, not counting the header πŸ™‚ ) where I’m caught in the warmth of the two of them. It’s wonderful! You and the constellation! How bizarre is life? Have a good trip πŸ™‚

    • Thanks, Jo. I agree, that is a particularly serene photo. I could have stayed there for several hours, but time flies and I had to move on.

      I’ll have to look out for my namesake constellation next time I fly across the Equator. Quite a surprise association. πŸ™‚

  12. stunning photos, really create a sense of wanderlust, the details are so beautifully captured, I love the shots with the shallow dof and statues in perspective… it’s incredible these are hand-carved… so what’s up next, Draco? πŸ™‚

    • Thank you very much, Alex. There was so much great photographic potential at the various temples. It was hard to know when to stop photographing. πŸ™‚

      Next? A bit of old fashioned landscape photography. πŸ™‚

  13. Pingback: THURSDAY’S SPECIAL: FOCUS | Lost in Translation

    • Thank you very much, Julie. There’s so much photographic potential at Angkor, at least when the crowds part. Yes, the Draco Constellation – what are the chances of that? πŸ™‚

  14. LB says:

    What an incredible place!
    Thank you for sharing this wonder with us. I kept scrolling back to look at the photos again and again. The contrast of the trees with the carvings is striking.
    I’m just stunned!
    I’ve not been able to visit WP much since the election in November (I’m all about the resistance) so I’m very glad that I visited today.

    • Thank you very much. The temples are other-worldly and the serenity of it all is encapsulating. Unlike the reality of life as a resistance fighter, I suspect. I wish you well.

    • Those 2 capture the ambience of being there very well. You just stand there in awe but also feeling calm. There is much to appreciate at the temple and I wish I had more time there.

  15. There’s a terrific amount of faces in there! Some you don’t see straight away, but then… it’s looking at you.. haha!! πŸ˜€ Very impressive to think it was built so long ago with human hands. Must have been something to be very proud and privileged to be involved in. I often think about the men who built the castle and cathedral where I live, both are not that far off from a thousand years now. I wonder if it was a good job to have, or if they treated their workers like slaves. I’m not into church buildings and temples in a religious sense, but can really appreciate the art and skill within the building. And there’s certainly a lot skill within this temple. I wonder how many years it took to build?

    • Seeing the size of many of the bricks used, I’m guessing it was back breaking work to assemble the temples and probably some degree of forced labour was used. Yet the quality of the stonework and carvings is magnificent and that is a sign of skilled and dedicated craftsmen. I suspect each temple would have taken many years, if not decades to build.

      Bayon is a very serene place. The faces are everywhere, usually one on each side of each structure/tower and I think there are more than 50 towers there.

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