Banteay Srei Temple, located in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is a magnificent 10th-century Hindu temple dedicated to the gods Shiva and Parvati. This temple stands out for its stunning decorative wall carvings that have amazed visitors for centuries. What makes Banteay Srei even more remarkable is that it wasn’t built by a monarch, but by courtiers named Vishnukumara and Yajnavaraha. The temple’s architecture showcases both Shiva and Vishnu, with the buildings divided between the two deities. The name Bantãy Srĕi, meaning “citadel of the women” or “citadel of beauty,” perfectly captures the intricate carvings on the walls and the small size of the buildings.
Throughout its history, Banteay Srei Temple has undergone expansion, rebuilding, and restoration. It was rediscovered in 1914 and restored in the 1930s to preserve its beauty for future generations. Unfortunately, the temple has suffered from pilfering and vandalism over the years. However, measures have been taken to protect this cultural treasure.
Built mainly of red sandstone, Banteay Srei Temple is renowned for the beauty of its lintels and pediments. The elaborate carvings depict various scenes from Hindu mythology and provide a glimpse into the artistic skills of the Khmer civilization. The attention to detail and precision in these carvings is truly awe-inspiring.
Situated just over 20km from the main Angkor complex and a little over 30km from Siem Reap center, visiting Banteay Srei Temple is not only a cultural experience but also a scenic one. The journey through villages by tuk-tuk offers a charming glimpse into rural life in Cambodia.
Today, Banteay Srei Temple is one of the most popular temples in Siem Reap and attracts numerous visitors each day. Its nickname, the “lady temple” or the “pink temple,” further adds to its allure. The temple’s rich history, intricate carvings, and beautiful surroundings make it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the Angkor Archaeological Park.