- George Moore
Banteay Srei in Cambodia is the only temple carved in hard pink sandstone in the Angkor region. It was discovered in 1914 by French archaeologists who described it as a "precious gem" and a "jewel in Khmer art". It is a very small miniature like temple in comparison to the dimensions of other Angkor temples, but due to its intricate and extraordinarily beautiful decoration it has become the favourite temple of many visitors. Amongst Banteay Srei highlights we must mention the refined carved walls of the central sanctuary and the guardian sculptures in the corners of the central tower.
Distance from Siem Reap to Banteay Srei is 37km (55 minutes by car, over an hour by Tuk Tuk and three hours and a half by bicycle). From Siem Reap, take Sivatha Road and continue until you reach the Angkor Wat Moat. Turn right, and continue past Srah Srang, turning right along the north edge of the reservoir, until you reach Pre Rup as the road turns North again. Turn right before the East Mebon towards Preah Dak village and then turn right again at the junction. Follow north and you will arrive to the point where the road splits into three lanes. Take the one on the left and follow it all the way to Banteay Srei which you will reach shortly after crossing a river. You can visit Banteay Srei at any time of the day although at early morning and midday there will be fewer visitors.You can combine a visit to Banteay Srei with other Siem Reap temples further afield.
Banteay Srei or "Citadel of Women"" was not built by a King as the other Angkor temples. It was built by a brahmin of royal descent who was the spritual teacher of King Jayavarman V. It is therefore a hindu temple dedicated to to Shiva and it was erected in the 967AD. It is believed that its modern name (which means Citade of Women in Khmer) is realted to the perfection of its bas-relief carvings. It was "rediscovered"by French archaeologists in 1914, but it was not restored until 1930 being the first temple to be mainly restored through the anastylosis method.
"Banteay Srei is a sort of 'caprice' where the detail, of an abundance and incomparable prettiness, sweeps away the mass".
"Take your time to explore this site. Its beauty is not to be rushed but to be relished slowly and attentively. Banteay Srei is after all, the ruby of the Angkor kingdom.
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