Baphuon is a recently restored temple in the Angkor Thom complex. It is open to the public to scale to its summit. If you want to see how Baphuon looked like before restoration, there are information boards put up at the first level of the temple as you enter through the temple's eastern gopura and across the raised causeway. Do not miss reading these boards as they give a mountain of information about the amazing restoration process and just gives you the heaviness and the complexity of putting this jigsaw of a temple together --- from the mound of dirt it started from to the temple you climb today. Outstanding difference! They even placed what the temple looked like during the Angkor Thom era (I've also uploaded it for your wonderment). After seeing this picture, you will surely go... I would've loved to see this temple in its fullness back during those day.
A fair warning to visitors: even if they have built stairs over the damaged original stairs, these stairs are just as steep as the original ones. It will really test your nerves! The authorities have placed tour routes which give the visitor a route to follow around the temple. You may opt to follow this or not. However, you must at least follow the signs saying if the flight of stairs are for going up or down. It's just basic courtesy to the one going up or down and basic rule-abiding.
If you conquered your fears and went up the whole temple mountain, savor your victory by looking at the view from the top. It is not really a great view. It's just tree tops and a view of the causeway and gopura below. Remember the whole area around the temple is forested so other sites will be blocked from view by the trees. Still, savor your victory. It is one of the hardest temple mountains to scale --- you had two flights of steep stairs to go up and there's still the way down.
If you go down the first of the two flight of stairs down, before you go to the second, detour to your left and go outside the corridor through the windows on your left. After jumping out of this window, go left again and check out the carvings near the stairs from which you went down from. You will see carvings on the walls of typical animals: birds, deer, horses, etc. It's quite unique since I never saw any of these types of carvings at other temples. If you're done, go down the second flight of stairs.
Leave at the back of the temple. Again, you will be seeing information boards, but this time it tells you about a unique sight of this temple. The whole back side of the temple is a figure of a reclining Buddha albeit not initially discernible! Another complexity of the restoration process! Wonderful indeed! DO NOT MISS! It's a unique feature unseen in other Angkor temples.
I went to this temple a little past noontime. There were very few people scaling this temple so it made it less troublesome to go up and down the stairs. It was also less noisy. But, it was too hot. Remember to put on some sunscreen first!
Do not miss this temple! It's the hardest to scale. It has unique carvings. It has a reclining Buddha carved to the back side of the temple. That's three enough reasons to visit this temple mountain.
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