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Banteay Srei Temple

Banteay Srei temple is located in Banteay Srei village, Banteay Srei commune, Banteay Srei district, about 32 kilometers from Siem Reap provincial town. The temple was built in the second half of the 10th century during the reign of King Rajendravarman and King Jayavarman V, dedicating to Brahmanism.

The special charm of this temple lies in its remarkable state of preservation, small size and excellence of decoration. Some unanimous archaeologists say that Banteay Srei is a precious gem and a jewel in Khmer art.

Banteay Srei, as it is known by locals, was originally called Isvarapura, according to inscription. It was built by a Brahmin of royal descent who was spiritual teacher to King Jayavarman V. A special feature of the exquisite decoration was the use of hard pink sandstone (quartz arenite) which enabled the technique of sandalwood carving.

Architectural and decorative feature of Banteay Srei are unique and exceptionally fine. A tapestry-like background of foliage covers the walls of the structures in the central group as if a deliberate attempt has been made to leave no space undecorated.

The architecture is distinguished by triple superimposed fronton with relief narrative scenes carved in the tympanums, terminal motifs on the frames of the arches, and standing figures in the niches. Panels are decoration has a liveliness not seen in the more formal decoration of earlier temples. Compared to the rest of Angkor this is in miniature. The doors of the central towers are narrow and barely one and a half meters high. The quality of architecture and decoration make up for any shortcoming in size.

The temple is rectangular in plan and enclosed by three ramparts and a moat. Only two of the ramparts are visible. The central area of the temple is the most important and the most beautiful. It is surrounded by a brick rampart that has almost entirely collapsed. However, there are two remnants on either side of the east gopura. There are two libraries on each side of the walkway in the central courtyard opening to the west.

The three shrines arranged side by side in a north to south line standing on the common, low platform and opening to the east. The principle shrine in the central contained Shiva lingam, the shrine on the south was dedicated to Brahma, whereas the one on the north honors Vishnu. All three central shrines are of a simple form with a superstructure comprising four tiers, decorated with miniature replicas of the main shrine which symbolize the dwelling of the gods. The shrines are guarded by sculptures of mythical figure with human torsos and animal heads kneeling at the base of the stairs leading to the entrance. Most of these figures are copies, the originals have been removed for safe-keeping.

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