Of all the temples I’ve seen so far, this one is my favourite. It’s not the biggest, nor the prettiest. But to me it was the most spiritual. And part of that might have to do with the fact that its symbolism is simple. There were once 49 towers in the temple, which now only number only 37. Each tower has four smiling Buddha faces. The fact that there are four is significant, as it represents the ‘four Buddhas’, which represent the ‘four states of being’:

1. Kindness
2. Sympathy
3. Neutrality
4. Equality

Once you achieve all four states of being you achieve happiness.

The other thing that appeals to me about this temple, is while all other temples are built in either Buddhist or Hindu architecture, this has and element of both. A bit of history: Cambodia was first an Animism country that was then converted to Hindu. In 1181 the country was then converted to Buddhism. So there are two ways to tell whether a temple is Buddhist or Hindu. If it was built before 1181 then you know it is Hindu. After that all temples were built to honour Buddha. Hindu temples are also built with many levels signifying the mountain, whereas Buddhist temples are flat.

What sets Bayon apart, is that it was built around the time of 1181 when the people were being converted from Hindu to Buddhism. So to encourage and aid the transition, there are elements of both religions in this temple. Namely, it is built with many levels indicating Hindu architecture, but was built to worship Buddha, and the faces of Buddha are the main symbols of the temple.

Pretty cool.