Banteay Srei

Located about 35km from Siam Reap town and 28 km from the main group of temples of Angkor, Banteay Srei is a 10th-century temple that was built to dedicate to the god Shiva of Hinduism.  The temple was built of red sandstone and is famous for its elaborate carvings and bas-reliefs which is considered some of the best of Khmer sculpture art. These prominent features of the temple have made it very popular with tourists and also bring it the fame of "precious gem of Khmer art”. Visiting the temple of Banteay Srei is a highlight on our "Siam Reap Discovery" tour and often included in our Cambodia trips.

Banteay Srei overview

Referred to as the Citadel of women or citadel of beauty probably due to its charms and many devatas, a feminine form of Hindu gods, carved on red sandstone walls and around the temple, the Banteay Srei was originally called Tribhuvana Mahesvara – the Great Lord of the threefold world – in reference to god Shiva and was constructed by Yajnavaraha, a Brahmin, royal physician and counselor to king Rajendravarman II. Expansion work was made in the eleventh century and its function also changed at some time in the 12th century to be a worship place for the priest Divakarapaṇḍita before rededicated to Śiva.

Banteay Srei

Among the temples throughout the kingdom of Khmer, Banteay Srei owns some special characters that make it different from the rest. This temple is the only one that has the most use of red sandstone. The sandstone used to build the temple was taken from mountains in the area near the present-day ThailandCambodia border. This is a kind of hard stone but can be easily chiseled like wood, allowing artists to manifestly display their imagination and skills. The light red color of the stone also adds more charm to the temple. The temple of Bantey Srei also has the most sophisticated carvings that boast to be the most beautiful among temples in Cambodia. Apart from bas-reliefs on walls, columns, and corridors, each of many pediments and lintels at the temple can be said a masterpiece of Khmer art with scenes of myths and historical subjects beautifully depicted.

Banteay Srei - Cambodia

Like other Angkorian temples in the area, Banteay Srei also left unattended and gradually covered by jungle since the decline of the Khmer empire from the early 14th century until it was rediscovered in the early 20th century.

Some first restoration work in the 1930s and those of later using the original constructing methods and architectural elements had helped to bring back the beauty of the temple somewhat to its origin, giving visitors the chance to admire one of the greatest artwork of Cambodia.