Banteay Srei Temple, a precious gem in Khmer art

If you travel in Cambodia, you should not miss chance to visit pagodas and temples here which is always associated with Khmer life. And Banteay Srei Temple should be one of your destinations in this country.

Banteay Srei Temple is located in Angkor area, about 23 miles from the north of Angkor Wat. The temple consists of low walls surrounding peaked structures of deep red sandstone. Banteay Srei means “Citadel of Women,” and it is said that the reliefs on this temple are so delicate that they could only have been carved by the hand of a woman. The well-preserved relief carvings on the central buildings depict scenes from ancient Hindu tales.

Ancient beauty of Banteay Srei Temple

Ancient beauty of Banteay Srei Temple

 Banteay Srei’s style is a mix of the archaic and the innovative. It is built largely of red sandstone, with brick and laterite used only for the enclosure walls and some structural elements. Although Banteay Srei’s coloration is unique, sandstone of other shades was later to become the norm.

These distinct sculptures are one of the highlights of visiting Banteay Srei Temple.

These distinct sculptures are one of the highlights of visiting Banteay Srei Temple.

Banteay Srei is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child’s heart has yearned after, but which mature years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteay Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone. Every inch of the doorways and walls are adorned with leaf motifs and female deities known as devatas. Read more Indochina Tours

The intricate design and bas-relief carvings in Banteay Srei really set it apart from the other temples of Angkor.

The intricate design and bas-relief carvings in Banteay Srei really set it apart from the other temples of Angkor.

Another interesting little fact about Banteay Srei is that this temple was not commissioned by a king, rather by a Brahman who was a tutor to the royal family which goes to show just how much power he held.

The unanimous opinion amongst French archaeologists who worked at Angkor is that Banteay Srei is a ‘precious gem’ and a ‘jewel in Khmer art’. Banteay Srei, as it is known by locals, was originally called Isvarapura, according to inscriptions. It was by a Brahmin of royal descent who was spiritual teacher to Jayavarman V. Some describe it a s being closer in architecture and decoration to Indian models than any other temple at Angkor. A special feature of the exquisite decoration was the use of a hard pink sandstone (quartz arenite) where enabled the ‘technique of sandalwood carving with even an Indian scent to it.

Some more details of the relief carvings in sepia

Some more details of the relief carvings in sepia

If you want to study and explore Khmer culture, Banteay Srei Temple will be surely an appropriate choice for you.

The Indochina Voyages team.

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