Private Angkor Wat Tour

guide to visit banteay srie temple

First-Timers Guide to Banteay Srei Temple: Planning Your Visit

Publisher: Rain Proun
Date: February 29, 2024

In the lush countryside in the heart of Cambodia stands one of the most beautiful of all the temples of Angkor, Banteay Srei Temple. Although 25 km (15.5 miles) northeast of Siem Reap (still within the Angkor Archaeological Park), Banteay Srei, a 10th-century Hindu temple, is a hidden treasure offering a unique and serene experience to those willing to venture beyond the well-trodden paths of Angkor. Considered a precious gem and a jewel of Khmer art, it is no wonder that it holds such appeal, and a visit is highly recommended.

This article is a guide to Banteay Srie, so we’ll delve into the mysteries and beauty of the temple while providing valuable information on how to get there and the benefits of hiring a knowledgeable Angkor guide.

Worth Visiting Banteay Srie Temple

  1. Intricate Stone Carvings: Banteay Srei is renowned for its exquisite pink sandstone carvings. The intricate details and delicate craftsmanship of the carvings are considered some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art.
  2. Historical Significance: Built in the 10th century, Banteay Srei is one of the oldest temples in the Angkor Archaeological Park. Its historical significance provides visitors with a deeper understanding of the rich cultural and religious heritage of Cambodia.
  3. Unique Temple Design: Unlike many other temples in the region, Banteay Srei is relatively small in size but compensates with its intricate design and well-preserved state. The temple dedicates itself to the Hindu god Shiva, featuring a layout distinct from the larger structures in the Angkor complex.
  4. Remote and Serene Setting: Located about 25 kilometers north of the main Angkor complex, Banteay Srei offers a quieter and less crowded experience. The peaceful surroundings and rural landscape provide a serene atmosphere for exploration.
  5. Educational Experience: As a tour guide with a passion for Cambodia’s history, you can provide valuable insights into the temple’s history, its role in the Angkor civilization, and the cultural significance of the intricate carvings. Visitors can gain a deeper appreciation for the site with your expert guidance.
  6. Highly recommend you start the tour 2 days in Angkor Wat to unveil what things to see more and the travel budget.

Banteay Srie Temple Facts

  • Banteay Srei was built by Yajnavaraha, a high-ranking courtier and advisor to King Rajendravarman II.
  • Religion: style of a Hindu temple
  • Date: April 22nd, 967 AD
  • Required: Temple Pass
  • Required: wearing a proper uniform
  • Visit duration: 1 hour

Location of the temple

 

Getting There from Siem Reap

banteay srie siem reap
banteay srie siem reap

Siem Reap serves as the gateway to the Angkor Archaeological Park, where you can purchase your temple pass either at the ticketing office or online. This pass grants access to most of the temples you will wish to explore, including Banteay Srei. Here are a few tips on how to get there:

Private Transportation:

taxi driver angkor
taxi driver angkor

Hire a tuk-tuk, or consider hiring a private car for a more comfortable experience. The journey takes approximately 30-45 minutes by car (allow for more time if using a tuk-tuk), and this will give you the freedom to explore at your own pace.

Motorbike Rental:

For the more adventurous traveler, renting a motorbike from Siem Reap is a viable option, but be mindful of the Cambodian traffic laws and roads and always wear a helmet.

Private Local Guided Tours:

angkor tour guide
angkor tour guide

Engaging in the services of a knowledgeable guide not only offers an enhanced understanding of the rich history of the temple but will also provide you with a stress-free journey. Guides will arrange your preferred mode of transport, share deep insights into the temple, and tailor the day to meet your needs. The route to Banteay Srie is strewn with local villages, so you can stop off en route or continue the journey to visit another temple that same day. A guide can plan a bespoke itinerary and offer great company for the day, which is a plus. Nothing is better than local knowledge!

History and origins

banteay srie temple tour
banteay srie temple tour

Banteay Srei was built in 967 AD, in the early years of the Khmer Empire, long before other temples in the region, including Angkor Wat! Banteay Srie means “Citadel of Women” and is quite spectacular due to its unusual color. It was built using hard pink sandstone quartz and adorned with highly decorative and well-preserved intricate carvings; this is why it is considered to be one of the highest achievements of art from that period. Its architectural style is reminiscent of Indian design and dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, with two shrines devoted to Shiva and one to Vishnu, making it stand apart from the other Angkorian temples. Considerably smaller than other temples in Angkor, yet deemed a miniature masterpiece in Khmer artistry and architecture, it is in no way less significant than Angkor’s larger and more widely known sites; on the contrary, the intimate setting, surrounded by a moat full of lotus blooms, provides its visitors with a captivating atmosphere to enjoy and explore.

Let the story unfold.

Banteay Srei was built by Yajnavaraha, one of the king’s counselors, and is not a royal temple, explaining its smaller size. The counselor was a scholar of astronomy and music, a doctor of ancient Indian medicine, and a priest of Hindu scriptures. One year after the temple’s construction, the reigning king died, and his young son, King Jayvaraman V, took the throne at the tender age of 10 years old! The counselor then became a teacher and guru to the young king, and the royal court appointed was comprised of philosophers, scholars, and artists, including women, who were given prominent positions.

The temple housed many exquisite artworks and statues, some of which are currently on display at the National Museum in Phnom Penh. You will notice some of the temple’s features have been replaced by replicas due to the temple having fallen victim to looters after its discovery in 1914.

The pink sandstone creates a very inviting ambiance, particularly in the warm light of sunrise and sunset. It has three central towers adorned with highly elaborate carvings depicting Hindu deities, scenes from mythology, apsaras, and linga, all providing a compelling and spellbinding narrative of Cambodia’s ancient myths and history.

Preservation

After centuries of being hidden and overgrown by jungle, Banteay Srei has undergone extensive restoration work, and its preservation continues. In an effort to maintain this beautiful temple and respect this sacred site, visitors are asked to follow the designated paths and wooden walkways and to refrain from touching the delicate carvings. Thanks to efforts made by the Cambodian government and various organizations, today we can enjoy the grandeur and grace of this unique Khmer Empire masterpiece.

Visiting Tips

banteay srei tour
banteay srei tour

When to Visit: The best time to visit is during the hours of sunrise or sunset, when the temple is bathed in a glorious warm light, enhancing the intricate carvings on the already delicate pink walls and lintels. It creates a feeling of being in an enchanted place and is a truly magical experience.

Attire: As with visiting all temples, dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, out of respect for their religious significance.

Guided Tours: Consider booking a knowledgeable guide who will explain the history, architectural detail, and cultural significance of this impressive little temple.  A guide will greatly enhance your experience, not only by making your visit to Banteay Srei more enriching but also by pointing out other places of interest as you travel to and from the area.

Conclusion

Banteay Srei Temple is a place of delicate beauty, historical importance, and rich cultural significance in Cambodia.  As you explore the grounds, you will be transported to the bygone era of the mighty Khmer Empire, when the Citadel of Women was making its mark in the ways of education, philosophy, and the arts. It is a magical place where myths come to life in the intricate carvings, which still stand as a testament to the ingenuity and impeccable craftsmanship of the ancient Khmer. Whether you choose to go alone or with a guide, the small yet exquisite temple of Banteay Srei will be sure to hold a place in your heart.

 

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