Prasat Banteay Srei overview

Banteay Srei's Oriental Mona Lisa

Prasat Banteay Srei is situated in the Angkor region, about 25 kilometers northeast of the main Angkor Wat temple complex. Prasat Banteay Srei is unique among the temples of Angkor for its small size and the intricate and delicate carvings that adorn its walls.

Prasat Banteay Srei was built in the late 10th century, during the reign of King Rajendravarman. It is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is considered to be one of the finest examples of classical Khmer architecture. The temple's name, "Banteay Srei," translates to "Citadel of the Women," and it is believed that the temple was built by women due to the intricate and delicate nature of its carvings.

The temple is famous for its beautifully preserved carvings and reliefs, which cover almost every surface of the temple and depict scenes from Hindu mythology, including stories from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. The carvings are notable for their intricate detail and their use of red sandstone, which gives them a distinctive pinkish hue.

Today, Prasat Banteay Srei is a popular tourist destination and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is considered one of the must-see temples in Cambodia, and attracts visitors from around the world who come to admire its beauty and learn about its history and cultural heritage.

Especially famous is the statue of Devata (goddess) called the Oriental Mona Lisa in the photo on the right side. There is also an episode that André Malraux was fascinated by the statue and stole it in 1923 and was arrested.

Prasat Banteay Srei is surrounded by a perimeter wall and has an entrance on the east side. Passing through the gate is the approach, and the approach is lined with lingams. In the photo below, the water on both sides of the approach is not a pond, but a puddle formed during the rainy season. In the back of the approach, you can't see the intimidating towering temples like Bayon or Angkor Wat.

Prasat Banteay Srei approach

Follow the approach to Prasat Banteay Srei, pass through the pylon of the first wall, and you will find a moat, and a bridge filled with earth will lead to the second wall and its pylon. As you can see, the center of Prasat Banteay Srei is very compact. However, there is an amazing sculpture hidden inside.

Moat of Prasat Banteay Srei

After passing through the tower gate of the third wall of Prasat Banteay Srei, it is finally the core. Go to the front room of the central shrine of Prasat Banteay Srei. Please take a close look at the relief of the dancing Shiva on the gable in the center. The left and right gables are also decorated with reliefs.

Prasat Banteay Srei Front Room

In this way, many beautiful reliefs depicting Hindu legends remain on the gables of Prasat Banteay Srei. The picture below is a scene from the Ramayana, a relief depicting three competing monkey brothers.

Relief of warring monkeys at Prasat Banteay Srei

The heart of Prasat Banteay Srei is, above all, the reliefs and statues of devata (goddess) around the tower of the central shrine. The photo below was taken of the west side of the central shrine. The photo is slightly distorted because it was made by combining multiple photos into one. There are multiple devata (goddesses), so please appreciate them.

Prasat Banteay Srei Central Shrine

Prasat Banteay Srei tours

Prasat Banteay Srei is a very popular temple and numerous tous visit there.

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