Baphuon


Constructed when: mid 11th century
Constructed by: King Udayadityavarman II
Religion: Hindu
Architectural style: Baphuon
Location: 200 meters north-west of the Bayon




Construction at Baphuon is resurrecting a magnificent temple from a pile of rocks.

The Baphuon is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia. It is located in Angkor Thom, northwest of the Bayon. Built in the mid-11th century, it is a three-tiered temple mountain built as the state temple of Udayadityavarman II dedicated to the Hindu God Shiva. It is the archetype of the Baphuon style. The temple adjoins the southern enclosure of the royal palace and measures 120 metres east-west by 100 metres north-south at its base and stands 34 meters tall without its tower, which would have made it roughly 50 meters tall. Its appearance apparently impressed Emperor Chengzong of Yuan China's late 13th century envoy Chou Ta-Kuan during his visit from 1296 to 1297, who said it was 'the Tower of Bronze...a truly astonishing spectacle, with more than ten chambers at its base.' In the late 15th century, the Baphuon was converted to a Buddhist temple. A 9 meter tall by 70 meter long statue of a reclining Buddha was built on the west side's second level, which probably required the demolition of the 8 meter tower above, thus explaining its current absence. The temple was built on land filled with sand, and due to its immense size the site was unstable throughout its history. Large portions had probably already collapsed by the time the Buddha was added.
Pen and watercolor reconstruction of what the temple may have looked in the 11th century by Lucien Fournereau in 1889

By the 20th century, much of the temple had largely collapsed, and restoration efforts have since proven problematic: a first effort begun in 1960 was interrupted by the coming to power of the Khmer Rouge, and records of the positions of the stones were lost. A second attempt started in 1995 by a team of French-led archeologists as of 2005 was still ongoing, restricting visitor access. As of May 2006, partial visitor access is once again allowed, though the project is still expected to be underway for another 2 years.
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Historical information and some descriptions of temple sites are sourced from the Angkor series of Wikipedia articles. This text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. The main Wikipedia page on Angkor can be found at - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angkor