Banteay Srei – a Jewel of Khmer Architecture

Jake’s challenge this week is a favourite topic – Architecture.  Normally, this would be the jumping off point for a discussion of the evolution of architecture in Sri Lanka, but not this time – that’s a topic that needs to be tackled in detail and unfortunately I’m up against time now – other things must come before blogging!

Jake said:

“… the best buildings are often so well constructed that they outlast their original use. They then survive not only as beautiful objects, but as documents of the history of cultures, achievements in architecture that testify to the nature of the society that produced them. These achievements are never wholly the work of individuals. Architecture is a social art.”

and what better example of this than that jewel of Khmer architecture – Banteay Srei.

Taken just after the sun rose on a watery morning in January, the diminutive temple’s red sandstone glows, its intricately carved surfaces adding depth and meaning to the simple element of stone.

65 thoughts on “Banteay Srei – a Jewel of Khmer Architecture

  1. Now, that’s quite a spooky experience, as I looked over your photos and I almost ticked them off, as I have pictures of nearly all of the same details. I was there at a less auspicious time of day so far as light for the long shots was concerned, but all those intricately carved details drew me to take their photos too!
    The fact that any of the buildings survive there at all is remarkable, given the tumultuous history as well as the misguided efforts of archaeologists. Very thought provoking this morning. Thank you!

    • It is, assuredly one of the wonders of the world. I often thought about my response to it and I wonder if our response – people like you and me, who were totally bowled over by it – wasn’t because of the wonder that it’s still there after centuries of neglect and all it’s endured since its “discovery”?

  2. Ah, every time I see pictures of Banteay Srei I always regret my short visit to Siem Reap last year. I only managed to visit Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. If only I spent more time there. But in hindsight, it gives me a reason to go back to the country. Thanks for sharing the pictures of this beautiful temple, Meredith!

    • Never beat yourself up with the “if onlys” Bama! Though it is a good lesson in research and planning … Having said that, I was on a tight schedule myself and could only manage four days before my next inflexible date and always wish I’d had a couple of days more, what a tremendous time we’ll have when we go back, eh?

  3. What an amazing place. I’ve been around the world today. From southeast Asia here on your blog to Saudi Arabia and Central Asia at the Sackler Museum in DC this morning. 🙂

  4. Outside of Angkor Wat itself, this is the temple that I most look forward to seeing in Cambodia – with reliefs so fine they say it must have been carved by the hands of women. This was such a beautiful choice for a post on architecture, Meredith. 🙂 Given the same challenge, I doubt I’d have the restraint to narrow it down to just one building!

    • Banteay Srei is divine – literally – but whether the magic of its carved walls took my breath away to a greater extent than the delight, surprise and beauty of that head I came face to face with ( is a moot point, James!

      The important thing is to give yourself much more time than you’ve already budgeted for because there’s so much to see you’ll never ‘get through it’ and it’s like visiting the Brtitish Museum, The Louvre, or the Prado – you just get burned out after several hours of deep concentration and need the luxury of smaller, repeat visits at different times of day. Oh – and a polarising lens for your camera, if you can attach one. 🙂

  5. I love your photos and your stories. I hope to one day visit some of these places and see some of these sights. Until then I will live vicariously through your blog. Thank you for sharing!

  6. really really beautiful, a new one for me, i love the early morning light and the softness of the stone shaped into such pleasing and meaningful forms by craftsmen of long ago … a place to sit and meditate 🙂

    • And you probably could, early in the morning or in the evening – it’s off the heavily touristed trail, being about an hour’s drive from Angkor Wat itself, along what were then pretty bumpy roads. Meditation never occurred to me, however – I was just too energised by my wonder and awe, moving from one carved image to the next with such wonder, avid to suck it all in! 🙂

  7. I thought I saw Lara Croft there. Kidding! Anyway, I would also let my readers communicate not with the words I write about this place but with the photos as they really tell a lot.

  8. Beautiful place, isn’t it? I loved visiting this temple, as with all the others I’ve visited in Siem Reap, as this was the only one with the beautiful sandstone colour! Thanks for sharing…brings wonderful and warm memories of our visit these.

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