Baphuon Temple represents the mythical Hindu Mount Meru and marks the center of the city that was here before Angkor Thom. It’s seriously big and only Angkor Wat itself is larger than Baphuon. A lot of it has collapsed in on itself because of hasty and over-ambitious planning and building a millennium ago but it still is a hugely impressive sight and not a little scary to see the crocodiles in the moat.
Restoration of the temple
When the Baphuon was cleared in the early 20th century it was overgrown, partly collapsed and in a very poor state of repair. The daunting task of restoration was led by the EFEO, École française d’Extrême-Orient using the method of anastylosis. Most of the temple was dismantled and the hundreds of thousands of stones laid out and numbered. The unstable base of the monument was reinforced. After decades of restorations, the Baphuon was once again opened to the public in 2011.
Layout of the Baphuon
The main entrance facing East is a large structure of gopuras connected by galleries. It reminds of the main entrance of Angkor Wat. A number of devata statues decorate the gate. Behind the gate is a sandstone walkway, a little above ground level. About halfway the walkway, between the temple and the entrance gate is a pavilion, its walls decorated with panels containing several depictions of animals, hunters and warriors. On the South end of the walkway is a large pool. On the Western side of the Baphuon is another entrance gate and an enormous reclining Buddha image that was build centuries later, but which was never completed.