Banteay Srei is a Hindu temple that was constructed in the early 10th century. It is a worth visiting place.
The temple is located at a distance of around 37 km from the very famous Angkor wat in the city of Angkor Thom.
The temple is surrounded by the low walls. The walls of temples are made out of the deep red colored sandstone. The meaning of Banteay Srei is “Citdel of Women” or the “citadel of beauty”. The designs that are carved on the temple are very delicate. It is believed that such a delicate design is possible only to the woman’s hand. The walls of the main building are well-conserved. The paintings on the walls of the temple showcase the scenes of the old Hindu legends.
The construction of Banteay Srei was completed by 967 AD. It was an important temple during that period; moreover it was not dedicated to the kings. The temple was constructed by Yajnyanahara who was the one of the counselors of king Rajendravarman. Basically the temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva and also Lord Vishnu. The central towers as well as the buildings at the Southern end are dedicated to Lord Shiva. The buildings in the northern area were dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The temple is located near a hill named Phnom Dei which is positioned sround 15 miles from the major collection of the temples. The capital of the region during that time was Yashodharaoura was located quite away from Banteay Srei.
During the early 11th century the temple was reconstructed as well as expanded. Later the King established his control on the temple. Also the actual devotion of the temple was also changed. In 12th century the temple was given to a priest named Divarakapandita, it was he who devoted the temple again to Lord Shiva. Till the end of 14th century the temple was in use.
Originally the temple was named as Tribhuvanamahesvara, which means “the great lord of the 3fold world”. The temple was named after the image of Lord Shiva that was placed in the centre of the temple. The temple was being surrounded by the town of Isvarapura.
The temple was again founded in the year 1914. It was being looted by Andre Malraux. He stole the 4 devatas that were placed in the temple in the year 1923. He was later arrested as well as the devatas were returned back.
This incident aroused a huge interest in the minds of the people regarding the site. Banteay Srei was restored for the very first time in the year 1930. It was the time that Anastylosis was used in Angkor. In The foundation of the temple was found in 1936. It was found that the beautiful decoration which were made on the temple walls were made quite later after the temple’s construction.
A Camnodain-Swiss Banteay Srei Conservation project was installed in 2000 as well as 2003. Under the project a proper drainage system was installed as to prevent the damage that could be faced due to water. Also numerous majors were undertaken as to avoid the damage that was been caused due to the trees that are located quite close to the site.
What to See
The libraries are constructed with the help of brick, sandstone and the laterite. The library in the south Lord Shiva and on the west pediment there is Kama the god of love who arrows at Lord Shiva. Also on the east pediment there is Ravana who shakes the Mount Kailash on which Lord Shiva is seated.
On the eastern pediment of the northern Library you will find Lord Indra creating rains as to stop the jungle fire that was initiated by Agni as to kill the naga people living in the jungle. You will find
On the north library’s east pediment, Indra creates rain to put out a forest fire started by Agni to kill a naga living in the woods lord Krishna killing Kamsa who was his uncle, on the western pediment
The entrance to the Sanctuary is located at the east of doorway. The height of the doorway is only 1.08 m. The mandapa which is the entrance room is located in the interior of the doorway. The mandapa has a roof made up of bricks. Later you will come across a corridor which will make your way to the 3 towers that are located to the west. The tower in the center is the tallest tower among the three towers. The height of the tower is around 9.8m. You can reach up to the plat form by climbing up the staircases. The human figured statutes with animal heads guard the platform. The replica of the statutes are placed at the site as the original are either stolen or moved to the museums.
How to reach
You can come down to Phnom Penh International Airport; it is situated very near to the Banteay Srei. It has a good network of numerous national and international flights. Further you can travel in motor-taxis, tuktuks as well as buses.
When to visit
December and January is the most pleasant time of the year so if you are planning to visit the city than make the plans accordingly.
You can visit Banteay Srei throughout the year from dawn to the dusk.
The entrance fees are US $2o for a single day as well as US $40 for 3 days and also US $60 for 7 days for every individual.