Volume 2 No.10

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Place of Interest

Phrase Of The Month

Overheard





BANTEAY SREI - The Citadel Of Women
By: The ServantThe Servant ( October, 2002 Volume 2 No.10 )

"Banteay Srei.... is an exquisite miniature; a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest; the very thing that Grimm delighted to imagine, and that every child's heart has yearned after, but which maturer years has sadly proved too lovely to be true. And here it is, in the Cambodian forest at Banteai Srei, carved not out of the stuff that dreams are made of, but of solid sandstone."
Dawn F Rooney,PHD.
ANGKOR, an excellent guidebook

Perhaps the most beautiful of all Cambodia's temples, Banteay Srei is a favourite of almost every visitor to the Angkor complex in Siem Reap. Said to have been built by a Brahmin of royal descent, this small, highly-decorated temple marks a high point in Khmer architecture. The name Banteay Srei means 'The Citadel of Women. ' All aspects of this remarkably well - preserved site are intricate and dainty, giving the temple a distinctly feminine feel. Each detail carved into the pink sandstone columns, walls and bas-reliefs is so finely executed that the stone at times resembles lace. The doorways are narrow and measure no more than about 5 feet in height. Our guide suggested that they were made like this so visitors bowed as they entered the temple, to show their humility. It is not just the doorways of Banteay Srei that are small; all the dimensions of this temple seem to have been made in miniature, compared to the vast scale of many other Angkorian temples.
Figures, foliage and scores of cosmic symbols are carved into Banteay Srei's lintels. Pillars, walls and niches are covered with lively scenes from Indian epics such as the Ramayana. Ornate sculptures of mythical figures with human torsos and animal heads guard the temple's stairway. Even the temple's several false doors are decorated with intricate designs. Sculpted into almost every corner are male and female divinities, meticulously carved to show their clothing and accessories in minute detail. The temple typifies the tolerant spirit of an era that encouraged the creation of buildings dedicated to the Hindu gods Vishnu and Shiva. This pink-colored temple and its leafy, forest surroundings exude a sense of calm and serenity rarely found in Angkor's temple complexes. Banteay Srei is one temple no visitor to Angkor should miss.