Banteay Srei is a 10th century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. It is located about 1 hour drive from Angkor Thom and is worth a visit if you have the time.
Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, with decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of nearby Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a "precious gem", or the "jewel of Khmer art".
Although the main gate of Banteay Srei is small in size, the details and beauty of its architecture are better than some of the nearby Angkor monuments, as can be seen in the photos. Many tourists come here to witness the well preserved architecture of this ancient temple.
As you enter the main temple of Banteay Srei, there are two side pools with beautiful lotus plants growing in the water. Pools are a common sight at some of the Angkor monuments, including the famous Angkor Wat.
Attached here are more photos of the fine detailed architecture of the main temple area. This is especially beautiful against a blue and cloudless sky as shown in the photos. Due to preservation and prevention from damage, you can only view the main temple area from the side circumference as the centre part is fenced off.
The main temple of Banteay Srei is very beautiful, with very fine art and sculpture which is very well preserved until today. While Banteay Srei is small in size compared to the other Angkor monuments, but the level of details and architecture is better. If you have the time, a trip to Banteay Srei is a must.
More photos of the main temple area are at part 2 of this VT tip.
The main temple area of Banteay Srei is surrounded by a moat with water lilies and lotus plants frowing in the water. If you want to take nice photos of the whole temple, go to the other side of the moat and you can take photos with reflection if the water is still. Please see photos in this tip for the water reflection effects.
Banteay Samre is a temple located along the way from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei. It was built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, and is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style. Named after the Samre, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as Banteay Srei.
More photos of Banteay Samre are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
In order to visit all the Angkor monuments, including those further away such as Banteay Srei, all visitors must obtain the Angkor Pass at a ticket booth along the road from Siem Reap to Angkor Wat (or you can get them at the Sokha Angkor Resort if you are stay there). There are 3 types of passes as follows:
US$ 20 for one day
US$ 40 for three days
US$ 60 for one week (7 days)
Do note the following:
- This pass is important because there will be checks at the entrances of the monuments, especially the popular ones such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, Ta Prohm etc. You will not be allowed to enter without the pass.
- All passes are issued with a picture. They are not transferable to another person.
- Fees must be paid in US dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Baht or Euro. Credit cards are not accepted for payment, but there is a bank counter at the ticket booth where visitors can get a cash advance on their credit card.
- Entry is free for children under 12 years old. Children 12 and above must pay full price.
- Entry is free for all Cambodian nationals.
- There are no discounts for groups.
- The Angkor Pass is not refundable.
- Validity of the Angkor Pass is between 5.30am and 5.30pm on the same day.
There are a couple of gopuras or gates that one has to walk through to visit the temple. Each Gopura tells you a different story. This bas relief on the gopura tells of a battle between two monkey princes, Vali and Sugreeva.
Not sure who won in the end though.
On the east face of the South Library (Sounds confusing huh?), you will see a pediment where Lashmi, who is a consort of Vishnu, being lustrated (Showered by water) by two elephants.
If you're not into religious story, you can still admire the effort the Cambodian of the past have placed in order to bring these carvings to life.
There are two libraries located within the compound of Banteay Srei. Both have pediments on the top of the doors, on two sides of each library.
This pediment shows the ten-headed demon king Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa. The animals were running away and the wise men were wondering what could be done.
The story is about Hiranyakashipu (a power-seeking deity that is a demon) and Narashimha (a man-lion) in which the latter won. Hindus know the story.
What is interesting here is the intricacy of the carving on limestone.
It is said that the art on this temples walls must have been carved by some skillfull women as the intricate carvings and the 3 dimensional art wouldn’t have been possible by the hands of a man. Bantaey Srei though very small in size is considered the most beautiful of all. The ornatley carved stones on the pink hue stone is a wonder to watch.
The main reason to be here, of course, is the lovely pink sandstone temple. The carving on this temple is incredible - there is a huge amount of detail.
The temple is over a thousand years old, and is a Hindu monument, dedicated to Shiva. It's not a large temple, and when I visited parts were roped of, mainly to prevent wear and tear from the many visitors - but it was still a worthwhile trip; it's quite unlike the other temples I managed to see and a real architectural gem.
The outer walls of the temple are constructed with laterite and sandstone; both materials are bad conductors of moisture. Looking at the walls would give you the impression that they were made of hardened sponge, because of all the holes in the stones.
The temple has extensive wall and arch carvings. Even more eye catching is the row of "mini minarets" lined up on the top of the outer walls of the temple. It gives the impression of stupas sticking out of the walls.