We explored, Banteay Srei, the smallest major temple in Cambodia’s Angkor region. We found that what it lacked in size, it made up in its outstanding artisanship. Its statues, bas relief, pediments and lintels are considered the finest in all Angkor temples. Built in 10th century (two centuries earlier than Angkor Wat), Banteay Srei’s beauty and remarkable state of preservation make it one of the highlights of anyone visiting the Angkor temples.
Banteay Srei, which means “Citadel of Women,” is a relatively new name for the temple. It is speculated that women built the temple as its intricate designs and adornments are too fine to be carved by hands of men.
Banteay Srei is also the only Angkor temple built out of rose-colored sandstone, which aside from being more beautiful is also more lasting than the gray stones used in most temples.
Banteay Srei was rediscovered by French in 1914 but was not restored until the 1930’s. It is the first Angkor temple restored using the method of anastylosis – the process of removing and repositioning each block one by one.
One thousand year old Inscriptions are still clearly etched on a door jam.
- The best time to visit the Banteay Srei is early in the morning to avoid the heat (there’s no shade int he temple), to dodge the tour bus crowds and for better lighting for photography. The temple closes at 5:00 pm.
- Banteay Srei is about 37 kms from Siem Reap and can be reached in about 45 minutes by tuk-tuk. Since it is a bit further than other Angkor temples, drivers charge extra over their regular day rate.
- An Angkor Pass is required for entry to Banteay Srei. For more info about Angkor Pass, please go here.
- Suggested reading: Ancient Angkor by Michael Freeman and Claude Jacques.
- Suggested accommodation: We stayed at Shinta Mani, a beautiful and contemporary boutique hotel and we highly recommend. We call it a hotel with a heart as it donates part of your nightly rate to help local communities. It has a non-profit component that trains locals in hospitality business as well as contributes in health programs.