Sunday, December 11, 2011

Banteay Srei - The Citadel of the Women

Entrance to Banteay Srei

This is arguably the most beautiful temple in the Angkor complex. It is referred to as the Citadel of the Women and many would like to believe that this temple was built by women because of the intricate bas reliefs found in the walls and pediments throughout the temple. But in fact, this was built by a Brahmin and dedicated to Shiva. Her image is everywhere as the venerated Creator and Destroyer in the Hindu trinity.

Causeway leading to the inner sanctum

What's so appealing about this temple? Perhaps it's the intimate scale or the pink sandstone walls or the doors that lead to more doors behind which garudas sit in the sunshine. But at every corner you turn, there's something that will catch the eye. It could be a well preserved and artfully carved pediment or a delicate apsara or a column still standing since the 10th century. 


Banteay Srei is about 30 minutes away from the center of Siem Reap. It's a pleasant drive through green countryside with surprising views of temples like Preah Rup and Banteay Samre. And there's a nice walk around the premises through a forest of trees that leads to a gallery of photographs of archaelogical work done in the area and narrative descriptions of some of the bas reliefs found in Banteay Srei.

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Images by Charie

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