Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Banteay Srei, Siem Reap Province

Banteay Srei Main Gate
We made an early morning trip to the temple of Banteay Srei from Siem Reap to see the beautiful, unique and highly carved Sandstone temple. It was a wonderful experience. Banteay Srei is a 10th-century Khmer temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.

It was built almost entirely of red sandstone, a type of stone that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still clearly visible today. The buildings are relatively small in scale, compared to usual Angkorian construction.This temple is extremely popular. In the afternoon, there’s bus loads of tourists.

Inner Enclosure
Sandstone carving of Vishnu

The temple’s name, Banteay Srei means the citadel of the women, or citadel of beauty, which probably comes from the beautiful intricacy of the bas relief carvings on the walls and the small dimensions of the buildings themselves. Some have also thought that the name relates to the many devatas (Hindu Divine Ones) carved into the walls of the buildings. Banteay Srei dates from 967 CE and was the only major Angkor temple not built by a king. It was built by courtiers and devoted to Shiva.

Mandapa and Central Tower
Banteay Srei is built largely of a hard red sandstone that was be carved like wood. Brick and laterite were used only for the enclosure walls and some structural elements. The temple is known for the beauty of its sandstone lintels and pediments.

Devata with Kneeling Humans with Animal Heads
The temple was rediscovered only in1914, and was the subject of a celebrated case of art theft when Andre Malraux stole four devatas in1923. Malraux was soon arrested and the figures returned. Guess after the return of the Devatas, Malraux’s reputation wasn’t too harmed with the theft because we stayed in the Andre Malraux Suite at Raffles Le Royal in Phnom Penh. He's a historical figure, they named a suite after him.

Back of Temple
This small gem of a temple is well worth the journey and effort in getting there early. It opens at 7:30 am and the beautiful red sandstone glows in the early morning sunlight and low sun lights up the architecture and carvings in a lovely way.

This site is definitely a place for the photographer, and a must-see in a tour involving the Angkorian temples near Siem Reap. Just get there early to beat the crowd.

Highly recommended!

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