Most people come to Angkor Cambodia for "Angkor Wat" (Read more about it here) but the centerpiece of the ancient city of Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple. Known for its 216 giant stone faces of Avalokitesvara, the Buddhist bodhisattva of Compassion while the other theory says that according to historians, resembles a lot with King Jayavarman VII of the Khmer Empire. These smiling faces are considered the most intriguing feature that captivates the imagination and curiosity of millions across the world.
Built in the late 12th century it was originally built as a Mahayana Buddhist temple by King Jayavarman VII, it was later converted into a Hindu temple, and then later on it was converted yet again to a Theravada Buddhist temple, following suit as the Khmer empire's official religion shifted. Eventually like the other temples in the Angkor Archeological Park, Bayon was abandoned, not to be rediscovered until the late 1800's.
Again like Angkor Wat, this temple too has both Buddhist and Hindu sculptures inside besides those smiling faces. One can see Buddhist sculptures and a well preserved linga which represents the Hindu god Shiva along with some bass relief scenes from Hindu mythology. There are a total of 51 towers in Bayon, and each tower will have four smiling face, one in each direction. The arrangement of the temple is far more complex than it seems to be, with a maze of galleries, passages and stairways connected in some way.
The temple pass like every other temple works here. Give atleast 2-3 hours to explore the whole temple. The mysterious face with that smile can give competition to Monalisa where you can try to figure why are they smiling. But one thing is for sure these faces are looking down up on us.