Bayon (Prasat Bayon) was built during the reign of the famous King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th century to early 13th century. Bayon is the heart of Angkor Thom capital city. It is a Buddhist temple and it was the last mountain temple in Khmer Arts and consecrated to the Buddhist cult. The Bayon Temple is very great with its age, beauty and its splendor in the Angkor Kingdom. This temple is one of the most famous after Angkor Wat, and millions of tourists come each year to see. The Bayon was built nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat temple. Bayon stands in the exact centre of the city of Angkor Thom.
Bayon is the mesmerising state temple of Cambodia’s legendary king, Jayavarman VII. Its architectural audacity epitomises the creative genius and inflated ego of this enigmatic figure. It’s a place of stooped corridors, precipitous flights of stairs and, best of all, a collection of 54 towers decorated with 216 coldly smiling, enormous faces of Avalokiteshvara that bear more than a passing resemblance to the great king himself. These huge heads glare down from every angle, exuding power and control with a hint of humanity – this was precisely the blend required to hold sway over such a vast empire, ensuring the disparate and far-flung population yielded to his magnanimous will. Some say that the Khmer empire was divided into 54 provinces at the time of Bayon’s construction, hence the all-seeing eyes of Avalokiteshvara (or Jayavarman VII) keeping watch on the kingdom’s outlying subjects.
The basic structure of Bayon a simple three levels, which correspond more or less to three distinct phases of building. This is because Jayavarman VII began construction of this temple at an advanced age, so he was never confident it would be completed. Each time one phase was completed, he moved on to the next.
The first two levels are square and adorned with bas-reliefs. They lead up to a third, circular level, with the towers and their faces.