Touch-Me-Not – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #10

December 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm | Posted in itchy backside | Leave a comment
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According to our Tuk-tuk driver Kimsroy, we travelled about 28km before reaching this must-see temple, Banteay Srei. The reason why we were willing to pay extra to travel so far was because of the many pictures we had seen of the intricate carvings at this beautiful 10th century Hindu temple complex dedicated to the god Shiva. 

When we finally reached Banteay Srei, it started to rain…again! 😦  We were surprised by the size of the temple…in comparison to the rest we had seen…this was like a miniature….

So small….

Boo..! Wasn’t it supposed to be the dry season? No choice, just had to wait for the rain to stop. Since the temple was so tiny, there wasn’t any place to take shelter. So we joined the other tourists and walked around the temple in the rain carrying brollies. As we were now free from taking photos, we were able to take our time to slowly admire the many carvings…er, except maybe due to its small size and the many tourists around carrying brollies, it was kinda difficult moving around too…hahah…Good thing the rain came fast and stopped very soon too.

Walking through here to the East Gopura (Gate)

The eastern gopura 

Girls sitting near the entrance. They were the few kids not selling postcards
or handicrafts to tourists 

Built largely of red sandstone, Banteay Srei was the only temple not built by a king. Its modern name, Banteay Srei, means ‘Citadel of the Women’, presumbly refers to its miniature size and the delicacy of its decoration. The intricacy of the bas relief carvings found on almost every walls and pillars has earned it the name of the “Jewel of Khmer Art”.

Unfortunately, today it is no longer possible to get up close to the temple as ropes had been put up to keep tourists away from the carvings, and also to avoid overcrowding to the small temple. Signs were put up to remind people not to be itchy fingers and touch the delicate art. :p Good thing we had our long lens and binos with us, if not, it would be a waste not being able to appreciate these carvings at closer range. 

The pillar at the entrance…

Walls surrounding the temple, with additional rope around to keep visitors away

The temple platform supports three shrines

The central shrine

A false door created of stone for the passage of deities only, 
similiar to that at Ta Prohm

Almost every walls and pillars had some carvings

All were equally beautiful and intricate

So fine!

The closeup…

Good thing it was a small temple, otherwise, the artisans would need much more
time to fill all the walls with carvings.. 

It was interesting listening, er, or rather, eavesdropping, at other guides explaining the stories behind the various reliefs… :p

The fight for kingship between Valin and his brother Sugriva. The story came
from the Ramayana; the battle ended when Rama killed Valin with an arrow from behind

This depicts Ravana at the bottom, shaking Mt. Kailasa, the home of Shiva.
The great god at the top, with Parvati on his lap, stabilizes the mountain with his toe.
The story is an allegory of the natural force of earthquakes

Indra (the king of Gods), riding Airavata (three-headed elephant) and surrounded
by pleading worshippers, produced rain in order to extinguish a fire in the forest.
Krishna and Balarama (bottom right and left, standing on chariots), sent their arrows
skywards to prevent the rain from reaching the ground. The arrows flew so close together
that they formed a kind of roof, supported by a line of hamsas (geese), between Indra’s
waters (horizontal wavy lines) and the forest below

A five-headed naga (snake) ornamenting a lintel – a horizontal beam spanning
the gap between two posts

Another mythological being on the lintel…

Yet another one…

In our one week’s visit to Angkor Wat, we visited about 15 temples, with repeated visits to some. There were certainly many beautiful temples and carvings that we were so lucky to see, but Banteay Srei certainly has the finest and most intricate carvings of all. Forbidding visitors to enter the temples helped preserve the artwork and you would definitely not get any annoying tourists’ faces in your pictures. 😀 If you appreciate arts, architecture and culture, Itchyfingers highly recommend a visit to temples at Angkor Wat. A minimum of three days would allow you to visit most of the major temples leisurely. Try to visit during weekdays where there would be lesser visitors. 8)

Also see related posts:
> Floating Lives – Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #9
Missing the Leper King – Ankgor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #8
The Elephant Terrace – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #7
Face Towers of Bayon – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #6
Gateway to Angkor Thom – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #5
Tomb Raiding the Tree-strangled Temple – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #4
Steps, Steps and More Steps! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #3
> Walls of Art – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #2
Up, Up and Away! – Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia Trip #1


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