Banteay Srei

A beautiful 10th-century Hindu temple complex about 23 miles 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. 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. Like most Khmer temples, Banteay Srei is orientated towards the east. The fourth eastern gopura is all that remains of Isvarapura’s outer wall, approximately 500 m square, which may have been made of wood. The unanimous opinion amongst French archaeologists who worked at Angkor is that Banteay Srei is a ‘precious gem’ and a ‘jewel in Khmer art’.

It takes about 30 minutes from Siem Reap to get to the temple. To reach Banteay Srei, follow the main road north out of Siem Reap, turn right at Angkor Wat and follow the road to Srah Srang where you turn right past Pre Rup.

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