North of the Golden Tower [Bayon] … rises the Tower of Bronze [Baphuon], higher even than the Golden Tower: a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.

Location: 200 metres (656 feet) north-west of the Bayon, and south of Phimeanakas
Access: enter and leave at the east
Tip: access to the temple mountain is restricted as much of the temple has collapsed and is currently under repair until 2004
Date: middle of the 11th century (1060)
King: Udayadityavarman II (reigned 1050-1066)
Religion: Hindu (dedicated to Shiva)
Art sty1e: Baphuon


The massive size and grandeur of the Baphuon is unrecognisable today because much of the temple has either collapsed or been dismantled. The EFEO was restoring this temple when it was forced to abandon work and leave Angkor in 1972 because of war; they have now resumed their work. With a total cost estimated at US$10 million, the restoration is expected to be completed in 2004. Even though the Baphuon is situated inside the royal city of Angkor Thom it dates from the 11th century. A highlight of the temple is the bas-reliefs, which differ from most others as they are vignettes carved in small stone squares set one above the other on the temple walls, similar to tiling. Unfortunately few of these are visible because of the poor state of the temple.


Baphuon is a single temple-mountain sanctuary situated on a high base symbolizing Mount Meru. A rectangular sandstone wall measuring 425 by 125 metres (1.394 by 410 feet) encloses the temple (1). A special feature 1s the long elevated eastern approach (200 metres, 656 feet) supported by three rows of short, round columns forming a bridge to the main temple. This arrangement is unusual in Khmer art. Tip: before walking down the approach turn left at the east gopura (2)and walk to the end of the gallery for a superb view of a four-faced tower of the Bayon fratned in a doorway of the Baphuon, pausing on the way back to the centre for a good view of the eastern approach and columns. The approach is intercepted by a central cruciform pavilion (4) with terraces on its left and right sides. Turn left and walk to the end of the gallery to see a rectangular paved pool (5).

Originally, a central tower shrine with four porches crowned the peak of the mountain, but it collapsed long ago. The shrine stood on a rectangular sandstone base of five diminishing platforms, rather than the more common square format. The first, second and third levels are surrounded by concentric sandstone galleries. Baphuon is the earliest example of a monument at Angkor with this feature. Two cruciform libraries (6) with four porches stand in the courtyard. They were at one time connected by an elevated walkway supported by columns.

If accessible, proceed to the temple by walking along the eastern approach, climb the steps to the first platform and enter the gopura. Notice the bas-reliefs on the walls and study the details and workmanship. Walk to the left and around the temple, always keeping it on your right. Continue to the west side and stand in’ the middle facing the temple, where you can see the outline of a colossal reclining Buddha fashioned during the 15th century with stones of collapsed sections of the temple (7). This figure spans the length of the west platform with the head of the Buddha at its northern end. It is an abstract you may find difficult to distinguish as it was never completed. A stairway (8) leading to the next level begins in the middle of the Buddha.

Climb the stairs on the west side and you will see more of the bas-relief tiles for which the Baphuon is so well-known. Themes are either scenes enacting episodes from the Hindu epics, the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, or depictions of daily life, often hunting scenes set in the jungle. They are laid out in a general plan that flows from the bottom to the top. The realism and lightness of these bas-reliefs quickly capture your attention. Look to the left and right of the entrance on both sides, where you will see lively animals, joyful musicians and mythical beasts.

After viewing the bas-reliefs return to the centre of the popura and look to the south, where you will see a spectacular example of corbelling along the entire length of the gallery. Walk along the gallery to grasp a sense of the narrowness resulting from this method of construction. Then turn east and walk up a flight of stairs at the south-west corner to reach the top.

Preah Vihear: ‘Mountain of the sacred monastery

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Koh Ker

King Jayavarman IV ‘founded by his own power, a city which was the seat of the prosperities of the universe’. – From an inscription in Lawrence Briggs’  The ancient Khmer emplire, reprint, Bankok, White Lotus, 1999 Location: Approximately 3-4 hours from Siem Reap by Road. Take R

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Beng Mealea: ‘The Lotus Pool’

A trip to Beng Mealea, which in itself demands an entiie day, can be combined with a hunting party, since the region is rich in both small and large game and wild animals: tigers, panthers and elephants, herds of oxen and wild buffalo inhabit the forest as far as Prah Khan of Kampong

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Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat, in its beauty and state of preservation, is unrivaled. Its mightiness and magnificence bespeak a pomp luxury surpassing that of a pharaoh or a shah Jaham, an impressiveness greater than that of the Pyramids, an artistic distinctiveness as fine as that of the Taj Mahal. Loc

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We stand before it stunned. It is like nothing else in the land. Location: in the centre of the city of Angkor Thom, 1.5 kilometres (1 mile) from the south gate Access: enter from the east Date: late 12th century to early 13th century King: Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1120) Religion:

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Terrace of the Leper King

The stone monarch is absolutely naked, his hair is plaited and he sits in the Javanese fashion. The legs are too short for the torso, and the forms, much too founded, lack the strong protuberances of manly muscles; but, however glaring are his defects, he has many beauties, and as a s

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Terrace of the Elephants

An imperial hunt in the somber forests of the realm. There are formidable elephants…. The forest in which they travel is impenetrable to all but tiny creatures, able to squeeze their smallness between the fissures of the undergrowth, and to the biggest animals, which crush chasm

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North of the Golden Tower [Bayon] … rises the Tower of Bronze [Baphuon], higher even than the Golden Tower: a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base. Location: 200 metres (656 feet) north-west of the Bayon, and south of Phimeanakas Access: enter and

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Phimeanakas: ‘Aerial Palace’

Location: inside the enclosure walls of the Royal Palace Access: walk over the Terrace of Elephants and through the east gopura of the enclosure wall encircling the Royal Palace. You are on the principal access to the temple. Alternatively, follow the pathway between the two

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Angkor Thom

Angkor Thom is undeniably an expression of the highest genius. It is, in three dimensions and on a scale worthy of an entire nation, the materialization of Buddhist cosmology, representing ideas that only great painters would dare to portray…. Angkor Thom is not an architectural

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Ta Prom

Ta Prohm (Khmer: ប្រាសាទតាព្រហ្ម, pronunciation: prasat taprohm) is the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara (in Khmer: រាជវិហារ)...

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Banteay Srei

Banteay Srei or Banteay Srey (Khmer: ប្រាសាទបន្ទាយស្រី) is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Located in the area of Angkor in Cambodia.It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom...

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Preah Khan

Preah Khan (Khmer: ប្រាសាទព្រះខ័ន; "Royal Sword") is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the 12th century for King Jayavarman VII to honor his father.[1]:383–384,389[2]:174–176 It is located northeast of Angkor Thom and just west of the Jayatataka baray, with which it was associated...

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Neak Pean

Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance...

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