The Bayon Temple behind its large moat in the ancient city of Angkor Thom. It was built in the late 12th century as the official state temple of the Khmer King Jayavarman VII, who was a Mahayana Buddhist (many of the earlier rulers in Angkor were Hindus).
Just back from a little trip to Siem Reap in Cambodia, the hometown for Angkor Archaeological Park, of which the Angkor Wat temple is the most famous... Really, there was no end to huge, painstakingly carved and decorated temples looming in the hot Cambodian jungles, each impressive in its own way. I can't get over the amount of hard, raw work that was needed to build and carve these enormous buildings, all constructed without any other power machines than elephants, from the 9th century until early 13th century. What does this have to do with gardens, you might think; not much really, but I wanted to share some of the experience anyway.
Navigating one of the countless galleries of the large temple, with the mysterious stone faces smiling from above.
All surfaces are covered with intricate carvings; here, sitting Buddhas (I need to learn more... my knowledge is so irritatingly limited here!), Apsara dancers performing their classic Khmer style dance, and a female Devata, a guardian spirit.
From the 49 towers of Bayon, 200 carved faces of Lokesvara, the "Lord who looks down", still smile at visitors, just like they did at the inhabitants of Angkor Thom for nearly a millennium ago.
Lingam, a reminder of the older, Hindu times at Angkor; it is one representation of the Hindu deity Shiva.
Here, a huge Lokesvara seemed to be engaged in a deep discussion with a lesser one...
The outer galleries, where snake gods Naga still kept faithfully guard and greeted us goodbye.