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Banteay Srei Temple

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Banteay Srei goes by many nicknames, “The lady temple” or “the pink temple” an indication of the distinctiveness of this little gem of a temple, which feels so different to the imposing grandeur of the main Angkorian complex. Banteay Srey is a 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, located in the area of Angkor and lies near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom.

Originally called Tribhuvanamahesvara, the name Banteay Srey is a modern one, meaning “citadel of the women” or, “citadel of beauty”. People speculate that this is due to its miniature scale, the pink colour of the limestone, and the elaborate decorative carvings of many devatas (minor female deities) that grace its walls.

When Banteay Srei was first rediscovered it was thought to date back to the 13th or 14th century due to its refined carvings. However, inscriptions later found at the site place its consecration very precisely on 22nd of April, 967 A.D. It is the only major temple not to be built by a King. The construction is attributed to Yajnavaraha, a courtier and King’s counsellor. The temple was expanded and further built upon in later years and remained in use until at least the 14th century.

Banteay Srei is really quite a different experience to many of the other Angkorian temples. Here the demonstration of wealth, power and the veneration of the gods is apparent in detail and intricacy, rather than in the sense of enormity and gravitas of Angkor Wat or Bayon. It provides an interesting counterpoint for those willing to go a little bit further in their journey of understanding and experiencing the Kingdom of Angkor.

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