The Bayon temple (Khmer: Prasat Bayon) is a well-known and richly decorated Khmer temple made of sandstone. Built in the late 12th century or early 13th century as the official state temple of the Mahayana Buddhist King Jayavarman VII, the Bayon stands at the exact center of Jayavarman’s capital, Angkor Thom. Following Jayavarman’s death, it was modified and augmented by later Hindu and Theravada Buddhist kings in accordance with their own religious preferences.
From the outside it appears like an intricate labyrinth, but in fact it follows a plan based on a Yantra, which is a geometric diagram of the Indian Buddhists which demonstrates the mandala, or concentric diagram supposedly symbolizing the universe and the places of divine powers within it.
The Bayon’s most distinctive feature is the multitude of serene and massive stone faces on the many towers which jut out from the upper terrace and cluster around its central peak. The temple is known also for two impressive sets of bas-reliefs, which present an unusual combination of mythological, historical, and mundane scenes.