Situated in Siem Reap City, Cambodia, in the majestic Angkor, Banteay Srei Temple (Temple of Women, Banteay Srei Siem Reap, Banteay Srei Temple Siem Reap) is a delicate epitaph of Angkor Wat nestled amidst a vast and mysterious fairytale forest. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is noteworthy that this place is built largely of red sandstone and the buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. Thanks to these factors, the temple has become immensely popular with tourists, and is widely praised as a “precious gem”, or the “jewel of Khmer art. Is Banteay Srei worth it? You will regret if you miss Banteay Srei Temple when visiting Siem Reap.
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The temple’s modern names is “citadel of the women”. The temple is a delicate epitaph of Angkor Wat nestled amidst a vast and mysterious fairytale forest. It lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom.
Banteay Srei History
Banteay Srei Temple was built under the reign of the King Jayavarman 5. This temple, formerly known as “Tribhuvanamahesvara” which was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, has been later renamed as “Banteay Srei” – citadel of the women, or citadel of beauty. Originally the temple was built in the 8th century but had rudimentary carvings. Until the 12th century the pattern carvings were performed. And the construction of sculptures on red sandstone was finished in the 14th century. The temple is a masterpiece of sculpture on beeswax and red sandstone. The temple itself is considered to be the pinnacle of rock art with elaborate reliefs and subtle details. Researchers have yet to prove why they sculpt on such extremely hard rocks.
Things to see at Banteay Srei Temple
Entering the Banteay Srei temple, visitors will go through dense hills, just like being list in an oasis. But now, the road to Banteay Srei has been improved enormously compared to many years ago. On the side of the road are trees planted in rows, whiles houses in the temple area have been acquired by the Siem Reap government for the purpose of expanding the relic area.
The architecture of Banteay Srei temple is quite special, featuring bold architectural art of Indian Balamon. The temple consists of three layers, through the stone bridge to the temple gate is the outer ring, the second stone bridge over the moat (no longer exist) is the gate into the middle ring, and finally the inner circle of temples and two buildings called “library”, surrounding the Isvarapura tower system.
The temple was forgotten for decades with the Angkor Wat complex. In 1914, the temple was discovered by French archaeologists. In 1923, a couple of 22-year-old French couple, working as writers, had stolen many statues to Phnom Penh to sell to someone they had negotiated before, but they were arrested there. The statues weighed 600 kg, and they were sentenced to 3 years imprisonment, but it remains unknown why the sentence was not enforced. Since then, the Cambodian authorities have been protecting and preserving the precious architecture in Angkor.
The temple has lost many relics and sculptures due to the war of 1975-1979 when the Khmer Rouge attacked Cambodia and destroyed the temple and some specialists stole antique objects for sale. After that, the temple remains almost intact due to the renovation and restoration of the temple to serve local and international tourists.
Banteay Srei is a masterpiece of sculpture on beeswax and red sandstone, which is used in addition to the decorative sculptures on the walls. The temple itself is considered to be the pinnacle of rock art with elaborate reliefs and subtle details. Each wall and each sculpture in Banteay Srei contribute to a unique story. In addition to sculptures such as the snake/serpent (Naga) god, Kala’s face (symbolizing immortality), wind god Rehu, fire god Agni, are also the gods associated with the epic.
The stories, patterns, details, themes are decorated with the touches on the rock in extremely skilled fashion. It is said that the sculpture of Banteay Srei is closer to the technique of engraving on gold and wood than on stone. It is the craftsmanship of the Banteay Srei temple that is a magical attraction to the soul of all the visitors who once visit the most remarkable sculpture of all time in Angkor.
Today, Banteay Srei Temple is a popular tourist destination in Cambodia attracting many international visitors to discover the most sophisticated and unique architecture of sculpture art. Every year, the temple welcomes over 1 million domestic and global visitors. If you have the opportunity to travel to Cambodia, visitors should take the time to explore this beautiful temple.
Banteay Srei Temple (Temple of Women)
Location: 32km from Siem Reap town (25 kilometers (15.5 miles) north-east of East Mebon)
Telephone: +855 93 633 030
Opening hours: 7.30am — 5.30pm
Suggested duration: less than < 1 hour
Entrance fee (ticket prices): As of February 1st 2017, prices will be: Including in Angkor admission 1/3/7 days at US$37/62/72
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