Cambodia, Day 3 – The Baphuon Jigsaw Puzzle

After a fantastic time spent exploring the many faces and dark corridors of The Bayon we made the short walk across to our next temple for the day, The Baphuon.

This one was even older than The Bayon, being built around the middle of the 11th century!! Buddha must have only been a twinkle in Shiva’s eye when this temple was constructed by the many minions of King Udayadityavarman II. I can only imagine how pissed the Hindu god would have been a few hundred years later when those pesky Buddhists decided that these digs were pretty cool, but needed a little redecorating. A buddha here, a buddha there, pull down a tower or two and there you have it, the new and improved Baphuon!

The decline of the Khmer empire meant that all these efforts were in vain, with sections of the temple turning to rubble. In 1960 the first attempts were made at putting the Baphuon jigsaw back together again. This involved removing every single block of stone, numbering them, and then putting them back together again like a massive Lego set! Unfortunately in the 1970s the Khmer Rouge took an interest in pyromania, resulting in the loss of all the necessary records for putting the puzzle back together. It then took another 40 years after the fall of the Khmer Rouge for the restoration to finally be completed, with the last section finished off only two years ago!

Despite their best efforts though, you can still see hundreds of homeless stones strewn around the perimeter of the temple.

Looking back along the causeway

Room with a view

Ancient stones under foot

The view from the top!

One of the steepest sets of stairs that we attempted while climbing temples!

The causeway