The citadel of Women




December 2014 • Canon 60D camera

UNESCO World Heritage site

After lunch we headed to the next temple after visiting Angkor Wat this morning. Banteay Srei is a temple 23 miles north of Angkor Wat. It has constantly been described as the most beautiful temple at Angkor because of the ornate carvings on the buildings. Bantaet Srei is a Hindu temple dedicated to both Śiva (Shiva) and Viṣṇu (Vishnu). Originally the temple was called Tribhuvanamahesvara, Great Lord of the Threefold World. It's modern name is now Bantaey Srei, meaning ‘Citadel for Women’. The name probably comes from the carvings of Apsaras (dancing nymphs) and Devatas (minor goddesses) that adorn the buildings. It is said the carvings are so small and delicate that only women could have done such beautiful skilled carvings.

The temple has a three structured layout like Angkor Wat, but on a very small scale. It is surrounded by a moat in an area cut out of the jungle. It has an “hidden gem” atmosphere with the surrounding jungle. Inside are miniature lotus towers and small buildings that are libraries. They are all beautifully decorated on the outside by detailed carvings of patterns, animals and Asparas.

Did you know...

Banteay Srei is the only significant temple at Angkor not built by a king. It was built in the mid 10th Century AD by a counsellor to King Jayavarman V called Yajñavarāha.

Final thoughts

Don't miss this temple! It is further away from the majority of temples in Angkor, but it is unique in its setting and decoration. It's a small temple compared to others in Angkor but well worth a visit. If you want to avoid the large crowds, plan on visiting in the morning.

We were lucky that at our time a large group of tourists were leaving, so it was relatively empty for a a short while. If you are into your photography, make sure to walk around the outside of the moat to get some great reflections of the temple. And remember to wear sun block as this temple was all open air.

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