Exquisite detail carvings (height is about 1 foot)
Continuing on with my series of my favorite temples in the Angkor Wat Archaeological Park, this time we venture of quite a distance, 20km away from the main temples and visit the so called ‘Jewel among the Temples Angkor‘, Bantey Srei. If Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom impressed you with its sheer scale, Bantey Srei, which literally translates to ‘Citadel of the women’, will mesmerize you with one of the most celebrated Khmer Art intricately carved along its temple walls.
Elaborately designed frontons
There were already hordes of tourist with their buses and vans already parked at the temple entrance when we arrived with our tuk-tuk mid-morning. Despite it’s distance from the main temples, Bantey Srei gets its fare share of visitors. As much as I detest these tourist crowds, we have to see this temple no matter what.
There were no high rise towers this time around, let only some ruins at the entrance. And a short walkway which used to be a hallway towards the entrance to the central complex where you are welcomed by an already impressive piece of art at the fronton structure.
Central Complex shrines
Inside the central complex are shrines where you’ll be able to see a fine display of beautiful and intricate carvings than any Angkorian Temple. The area is cordoned off and the viewing time and visitors ere are being controlled to protect the temple from any further destructions. Before, there were incidents here were people would steal pieces of the walls and sell them at a high price on some museums and art collectors. That’s how intricate these temples are that every square inch is filled with detail that alone can stand as a work of art in itself.
So a tip to any photographers visiting this temple is to bring a telephoto lens or a camera with a large zoom to be able to take detailed pictures of the inner temple walls since you couldn’t get close enough to touch them. Also the optimal lighting where the shadows just reveal their details is around mid-morning until 10:30 in the morning and 1:30pm after. I heard there’s not much crowd in the area during the afternoons.
Female Divinities at the inner temple walls
Just to give a short background, these temples were constructed in the late 10th century by king Rajendravaman. Pink sandstones were used to build these temples, sculptures and carvings as well. The inner shrines were built dedicated for the gods Shiva and Vishnu.
Male Divinities at the inner temple walls
Inspecting closely the carvings on the walls are the familiar heroes and heroines of the Hindu epic Ramayana, like Shiva, Parvati, the monkeys of Hanuman and Krishna. Also their finely carved male and female deities are carved beside the walls of the the temple doors like guardians in a watch.
fronton top corner details
As you can see, Bantey Srei has become one of my favorite temples in the park due to its rich and detailed artwork deeply carved on its walls and has no rivals in terms of intricacy. This sure is a must visit to anyone whose visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park.
Macro detail (about 2 inches sized carving)
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.