Banteay Srei: The 'Citadel of Women'

Vanity is feminine, physical beauty is delicate and women is strong. Just like Banteay Srei, subtle but for years still standing. Conceited with its proudly impressive sculptures which could only be carved by the softest hand of woman. Smooth layers also possessed by the temple for its entirely made up of the fine pinkish to red sands. Dressed like a fine queen with its exquisite and intricate murals depicting the scenes from ancient Hindu tales. Banteay Srei means “Citadel of Woman".

Its long red locks that lengthens by time extended not only inside the temple but completely to its town. Town is gifted with variation of pinkish to  red sandstones that has been the main element in building the fortress temple. The temple is also crowned by pediments shaped in natural jewels. 

The Banteay Srei is relatively small compare to the masculinity of Angkor Wat. The temple consists of low walls surrounding peaked structures just like the shoulder of a petite lady gracefully showing off to the crowd. Moreover, no space in the wall is left without wonderful womanly carvings; they didn’t bare single inch of space.  

Banteay Srei is also known for its womanly designed pediments.

Hindu Goddess, Devi welcomed us in the entrance of the temple, for she was carved at the pediment elegantly, with so many flowers surrounded her. 

The color of the sandstone has been a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today. The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, unusually so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction. These factors have made the temple extremely popular with tourists, and have led to its being widely praised as a "precious gem", or the "jewel of Khmer art."

The Site: 

The site consists of three concentric rectangular enclosures constructed on an east-west axis. A causeway situated on the axis leads from an outer gopura, or gate, to the third or outermost of the three enclosures. The inner enclosure contains the sanctuary consisting of an entrance chamber and three towers, as well as two buildings conventionally referred to as libraries.

The Outer Gopura

The gopura is all that remains of the outer wall surrounding the town of Isvapura. The wall is believed to have measured approximately 500 m square, and may have been constructed of wood. The gopura's eastern pediment shows Indra, who was associated with that direction, mounted on his three-headed elephant Airavata. 

The Third (Outer) Enclosure

The third enclosure is 95 by 110 m; it is surrounded by a laterite wall breached by gopuras at the eastern and western ends. It depicts a scene from the Mahabarata in which the Asura brothers Sunda and Upasunda fight over the Apsatas Tilottama. The east-facing pediment is lying on the ground. It depicts a scene from the Ramayana in which a demon seizes Rama’s wife Sita. Most of the area within the third enclosure is occupied by a moat divided into two parts by causeways to the east and west.

The Second Enclosure

The second enclosure sits between an outer laterite wall with gopuras at the eastern and western ends, and a brick inner enclosure wall. The western gopura features an interesting bas relief depicting the duel of the monkey princes Vali and Sugriva.

The First (Inner) Enclosure
Between the gopuras on the collapsed inner wall are the buildings of the inner enclosure: a library in the south-east corner and another in the north-east corner, and in the center the sanctuary set on a T-shaped platform. Besides being the most extravagantly decorated parts of the temple, these have also been the most successfully restored. In 2010, the first enclosure is open to visitors again, but the inner temples are roped off and inaccessible.
My friend, Ton in the First Enclosure.
Things you should know:

- The beautiful temple is a 10th century Hindu temple complex about 37 kilometers from Seim Reap in Cambodia and 50 minutes tuktuk ride for $12. Two person in one tuktuk is advisable. 

- Before going to the not so far Banteay Srei, make sure you have your pass. The pass is available at the Angkor City. $20 for one day pass for all temples. 
- Visiting Hour : 5:00am - 6:00pm

- Its ruins were discovered in 1914 and its first restorations began in 1931. Banteay Srei became UNESCO World Heritage site in 1992.  

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