All photos © Ruud Leeuw




Angkor temples, Cambodia
Our second day at the Angkor Temples. Banteay Srei was our main objective today and we had hired a driver
plus van for the time we needed as this temple is located quite a distance from the main location.



Angkor temples, Cambodia
The 10th century temple of Banteay Srei is renowned for its intricate decorations, carved in pinkish sandstone that covers the walls like tapestry. Its reputation is to be the temple with the most elaborate decorations.


Angkor temples, Cambodia
Banteay Srei is also one of the smallest temples (we visited). Which means that with its reputation as a 'must see' it is quickly overrun by tourists. And Asean tourists (Koreans!) occupy their spot for ages as they all want to have their individual picture taken!
But I managed to take some photos excluding the crowds.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
And indeed the fine carvings are immediately visible.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
There is nothing primitive about these decorations!

Angkor temples, Cambodia
One giant jigsaw puzzle...

Angkor temples, Cambodia
If you cannot avoid the crowds, make the most of it.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
Take your time to look at the image closely, you will discover more and more detail.


Angkor (Khmer for 'Holy City') is a region of Cambodia that served as the seat of the Khmer Empire, which flourished from approximately the 9th to 15th centuries.
The word Angkor is derived from the Sanskrit nagara, meaning 'city'.
The Angkorian period began in AD 802, when the Khmer Hindu monarch Jayavarman II declared himself a 'universal monarch' and 'god-king', until 1351, when Angkor first fell under Ayutthayan suzerainty, to 1431, when Ayutthaya put down a rebellion and sacked the Khmer capital, causing its population to migrate south.


Angkor temples, Cambodia
Banteay Srei is built largely of a hard red sandstone that can be carved like wood.
Brick and laterite were used only for the enclosure walls and some structural elements.

Angkor temples, Cambodia

Angkor temples, Cambodia
Unfortunately, this temple has been ravaged by pilfering and vandalism. When toward the end of the 20th century authorities removed some original statues and replaced them with concrete replicas, looters took to attacking the replicas. A statue of Shiva and his shakti Uma, removed to the National Museum in Phnom Penh for safekeeping, was assaulted in the museum itself...

Angkor temples, Cambodia

The temple was rediscovered only in 1914, and was the subject of a celebrated case of art theft when André Malraux stole four devatas in 1923 (he was soon arrested and the figures returned).

The incident stimulated interest in the site, which was cleared the following year, and in the 1930s Banteay Srei was restored in the first important use of anastylosis at Angkor.
Until the discovery of the foundation stela in 1936, it had been assumed that the extreme decoration indicated a later date than was in fact the case.


Angkor temples, Cambodia
Banteay Srei (or Banteay Srey) is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.
It is located near the hill of Phnom Dei, 25 km (16 mi) north-east of the main group of temples that once belonged to the medieval capitals of Yasodharapura and Angkor Thom.
Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today.




Angkor temples, Cambodia
The two libraries are of brick, laterite and sandstone. Each library has two pediments, one on the eastern side and one on the western.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
The buildings themselves are miniature in scale, esspecially so when measured by the standards of Angkorian construction.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
The combat between Vāli and Sugrīva is depicted on the western Gopura.


Angkor temples, Cambodia

Angkor temples, Cambodia



Angkor temples, Cambodia
Returning to our transport we passed through a rice field before entering the 'commercial area'.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
The surrounding area has beauty in its simplicity (or 'poverty'?).

Angkor temples, Cambodia
I never cease to be amazed of what they can haul on their motorcycles!

Angkor temples, Cambodia
School's out.


Pre Rup - Angkor temples, Cambodia


Angkor temples, Cambodia
We returned to the central location of the Angkor temples; Pre Rup (a.k.a. Prae Roup) is located near the Eastern Báráy (artificial body of water), just east of the walled city Angkor Thom- see map bottom page.
This temple still has a high degree of dereliction: the curtain wall has fallen down in places and the towers show their crude design and poor condition.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
This entrance has some fine carvings and decirations, but most have a weathered appearance.

Pre Rup was built as the state temple of Khmer king Rajendravarman and dedicated in 961 or early 962.
It is a temple mountain of combined brick, laterite and sandstone construction.
This temple seems to be a favourite for enjoying the sunset.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
Although there is evidence to the contrary, many scholars believe the great city and temples remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century, when French archaeologists began a long restoration process.
From 1907 to 1970, work was under the direction of the École française d'Extrême-Orient, which cleared away the forest, repaired foundations, and installed drains to protect the buildings from water damage.

Work resumed after the end of the Cambodian Civil War and, since 1993, has been jointly co-ordinated by the Indian, German, Japanese and UNESCO through the International Co-ordinating Committee on the Safeguarding and Development of the Historic Site of Angkor (ICC), while Cambodian work is carried out by the Authority for the Protection and Management of Angkor and the Region of Siem Reap (APSARA), created in 1995.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
Pre Rup was dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, and it is probably located on a former shivaite ashram, built by Yasovarman I in the previous century.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
The temple has a square lay-out and two perimeter walls.
The outer enclosure is a platform bounded by a laterite wall, 117 meters N-S by 127 meters E-W.
A laterite causeway gives entry from the east; unfortunately, a modern road cuts across it.
The four external gopuras are cross-shaped, having a central brick section (consisting of three rooms flanked
by two independent passageways) and a sandstone vestibule on both sides.
PRE RUP on Wikipedia

Angkor temples, Cambodia
There were fewer tourists here and one could study and observe at leisure.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
It was quite high up and this isn't even the highest level of the temple.

Angkor temples, Cambodia
The way down was again quite steep and without much to hold on to.



Angkor temples, Cambodia
Then it was time for lunch!
At a nearby location (think it was on the road between Ta Prohm and Pre Rup temples, along a body of water:
Srah Srang) was a strip of restaurants all the guides and tuk-tuk drivers seem to take the guests; probably because the quality of food and hygiene was without question and the availability of airconditioning! Both times the lunch was good and pleasant; the bill was around usd 20,- for two (including sodas, water & beer).



Angkor temples, Cambodia
We had hired a driver plus van for the time we needed this day.
Srah Srang, or Sras Sang, is one of the few reservoirs at Angkor still holding water. It was completed during the reign of Rajendravarman in the late 10th century.
Sras Srang means 'royal bathing pool,' and was originally far larger than any pool today. It is thought to have been a natural lake, which helps explain why it still holds water. [Asian Historical Architecture]

Travel in Cambodia
A pleading hand, one of so many we've seen and sometimes succumbed to, ends my report of this excursion.



External LINKS:
Banteay_Srei on
Architecture of Cambodia
Pre Rup on Wikipedia
About Asia Travel
Useful phrases in Cambodian language




BANGKOK 3-2013, a start
Angkor - map





Page compiled/updated: 04-May-2013 / 04-Sep-2017