Friday, February 24, 2017

Banteay Srei


There are many special places in this world, some are much more well known than others.

Angkor Wat is a very well known wonder that is known as well as popular throughout the world.  Angkor Wat is much more than the just the temple whose name now is identified with the entire region. Besides the temple of Angkor Wat, the Siem Reap region also has the archaeological sites and ruins of the walled city of Angkor Thom with its temples of Bayon, Baupuon, Preah Palilay, Preah Pithu Group, Tep Prahnam, and unique features such as the Terrace of the Leper King, Terrace of the Elephants, Khleangs & Prasat Suor Prat. Nearby there are the temples of Ta Prohm, Baksei Chamkrong, Phnom Bakheng, Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei, Ta Keo, Ta Nei, Chau Say Tevoda, Thommanon, Preah Khan, Preah Neak Pean, Ta Som, Pre Rup, and Banteay Samre to name some but not all.  In my opinion, a minimum of three days is necessary to tour the sights with five days recommended to also visit the outlying sites.  In is easy to be overcome with "ruins overload".  Just as with the Grand Canyon National Park or other wonders of this world, several visits are needed to fully appreciate and to better start to understand the wonders before you.

My wife and I returned for a third visit last December.  The site is not as crowded as Angkor Wat and the surrounding area is not as "crazy" as the "Angkor" complex.  We have noticed changes from our first visit 10 years ago and even from our last visit 2 years ago.

Access is more restricted now with areas roped and barricaded off to tourists. The reception area is now more developed with a large paved parking lot for the ubiquitous tour buses, a commercial area, restaurants and covered as well as paved walkways to the vicinity of the site.  On our last trip the walkways of the reception area were the sight of a large photography exhibit of photos from the Huangshan Region of China. Some of the photos were incredibly beautiful.  There is some kind of sponsorship or association between Banteay Srei and the Huangshan Region. Banteay Srei as well as the other sights n the region are changing - evolving quickly  to the pressures of tie and the assistance of other nations to become the multicultural globalization vision of a proper and fitting heritage sight.

However the temple is still well worth a visit.  The sandstone carvings are magnificent and in general, well preserved.  Take advantage of the opportunities on your drive along Highway 67 to stop and experience some the sights, tastes, sounds and smells of contemporary Cambodia away from the madness of Siem Reap city.

Banteay Srei is a Hindu temple dedicated to Shiva constructed in 967 CE.  Banteay Srei, "Citadel of the Women" is constructed out of pink colored sandstone and has some of the finest carvings in the world.

Many of the carvings are from the Hindu epic "Ramayana"

"Ravana ShakingMount Kailasa" - East Pediment of the South Library

"Narasimba Clawing Hiranyakasipu" - North "long gallery"
"Fire In the Khandava Forest" - East pediment of North Library

"Krishna Killing Kamsa" - West pediment of North Library
The opportunity to experience the beauty and exquisite details of the carvings at Banteay Srei along with the experience of viewing some of the Cambodian countryside is well with the 45 minute drive out to the site from Angkor Wat.

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