The Baphoun is a part of the famous Angkor Temple group in Cambodia. The temple built in the mid 11th century during the reign of Udayadityavarman II has been described in history as the “Tower of Bronze”. The temple dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva, is an imposing three tiered temple mountain. The Baphoun temple which outdates the Angkor Wat by almost a century was the largest religious complex of its time. Measuring 130 by 104 metres and scaling a height of 35 metres the temple in it’s hey days must have been a truly astonishing spectacle and a benchmark for a whole ancient architectural style.
Ravaged over time by Mother Nature the temple had lost its splendor and largely collapsed. Restoration of the temple was undertaken by a French led team in 1960. The team of Archeologists dismantled the pyramidal structure and laid out over 300000 sandstone blocks in the surrounding Jungles after numbering them. The restoration work however suffered due to the civil war in 1970 as the Khmer Rouge which came to power destroyed the records, including the numbering system on the blocks. The restoration work was restarted in 1995 and nearly completed in July 2011 when the temple was opened to the general public.
Going around the complex one is in awe at the architectural marvel which would have been a sight to behold in its pristine glory. At the same time one bows to the team of restorers who have succeeded in solving what has been rightly termed as the largest ever 3D puzzle.
It is advisable to combine a visit to the temple while visiting the Angkor Wat and the Bayon, the two more famous temples in the Angkor Thom area. The temple is about 10 kms. from the Siem Reap and about 200 mtrs. further down the Bayon temple. It is a drive of only 15 – 20 minutes by car or about an hour by bicycle
The Baphoun was probably converted to a Buddhist temple during the 15th century, as can be seen by the massive reclining Buddha ( 9mtr tall and 70 meter long ) statue on the west side’s second level. The bas-reliefs on the walls of the temple are wonderful and delicate carvings of lotus flowers and animals fighting.
The Siem reap offers a wide choice of hotels to stay in and the Angkor Night market is a place designed to give visitors a safe, secure, and enjoyable shopping and dining experience in a vibrant, contemporary ethnic environment and also includes bars and food courts serving all the usual drinks, cocktails and large menu of Asian and western food throughout the day and late into the night.
For first time visitors it is advisable to leave expectations behind; Enjoy (find the positive in everything) your travels, learn by your mistakes, be kind to everyone, leave quickly when it doesn’t feel right, leave the place a little better for you having been there (you will find a way).