About Cambodia Travel & Tours present about tourists destination around Cambodia that known as the kingdom of wonder !
Banteay Srey temple was built by a Brahmin Yajnavaraha with his younger brother in 967AD in the middle of 10th century. While at that period, king Jayavarman V was still very young about 15 years old, when his father king Rajendravarman II had died. Thus, all administrative affairs and religious practices include to build temples was under organized by his guru Brahmin Yajnavaraha. Brahmin Yajnavaraha was also a royal blood who was a grandson of king Hurshavarman I.
Banteay Srey was a new name which meaning in Khmer is "Citadel of Woman". But according to inscription on the door piers of its structure tells us that the original name of this temple was Isvarapura which meaning in Cambodian is the city of Shiva.Thus, from its origin name we can tell that Banteay Srei was a Hindu temple and dedicate to Shiva.
Banteay Srei is just only temple in the Angkor period hat built of pink and yellow sandstone. The pink and yellow sandstone are high quality material more than the gray and green sandstone that used to build Angkor Wat and Bayon so on. As pink and yellow sandstone are so hard, that is why the carving of Banteay Srei are still good condition and very exquisite.
The Temple was rediscovered by French in 1914 , but the site wasn’t cleared until 1924 . the theft of the several important pieces of sculptures and lintels by a European expedition , meticulously planned by the young Frenchman , Malraux , caused a great scandal in 1923 , but hastened the archaeological work . The thieves were held under house arrest in Phnom Penh and only released after the return of the stolen pieces .
Then in 1924, ten years after they knew its location, Mr Henri Marchal a French architect in the Angkor Conservation Department was sent to study a method of anastylosis with Dutch in Borobudur temple of Indonesia. Because at that time Dutch restored Borobudur temple in a system of anastylosis.
Anastylosisis Greece words that mean, "When a pillar had fallen down, they have to raise its pillar back to its origin spot". It is also meaning that the anastylosis system is avoid to use the new material and avoid to carve the same details from its origin as well.
Mr Henri Marchal was getting a great success for his job of restoration Banteay Srei temple for about 10 years. We noticed that when they saw Banteay Srei before restoration it completely collapsed and shrouded by jangle. Saying that Mr. Henri Marchal faced a difficult security problem with Khmer Isarak who struggled in gorilla war fought against French colonial during his teams worked in Banteay Srei. That is why some part of this temple is never done. But now the Swiss teams will continue the restoration from French.
This entrance structure decorated with Indra God of Rain and King of Paradise riding on three headed elephant’s name Aravata.
Below is Kala face figure. Kala was a monster guardian over the temple doorway . At the edge of the pediment there are Nagas coming out from the mouth of Makara. Makara is a Hindu mythical sea creature combined with sneak body, lion head and sometimes with elephant trunk. At the door frames of the first entrance structure there are octagonal balusters with its very beautiful details. Octagonal is significant of the eight direction of the universe.
This entrance structure originally had used woods to build the roof, due to the earlier period of Angkor in the 9th to 10th century; the Khmer monumental temples always used the timber for its roof construction, instead of using sandstone.
Khmer monumental temples share very similar layout and plans. For example, at first,you will have an entrance, then you will see a causeway leading to temple, and the moat surrounding so on. However, of course, their architectural temple styles are completely different. The first causeway of Banteay Srei has measured of 67m long and flanking with 34 sandstone lanterns on each side. This causeway paved by laterite. Lanterns are symbolic of flame.
Along this causeway, there were two halls, one on the each side. Originally, these halls were using as are sting area for the pilgrims.
At the first causeway, there are several constructions with empty roof. But their pediments, their balusters, and their lintels so on are still excellent shape with very exquisite carving into the pink sandstone. According to inscriptions, those structures served as resting halls and to install the sacred Hindu statues as well
Northern Resting House:
When we walk in for a half of causeway if we turn to the north this building was serving as a place for pilgrims taking a rest its pink sandstone pediment has excellent carving, which depicting Narashimha is tearing chest of Hiranyakashipu. Narashimha is half man and half lion. He was a number four of Vishnu incarnations who came to convince the Demon king Hiranyakashipu in order to retrieve the three worlds from this tyrant ruler.
Southern Resting House:
To the south of midway from the causeway, there are three resting houses. The middle is the biggest other two which are poor condition, but the one in the middle has excellent pediment. This pediment is depicting Shiva riding on his Bull with his wife Pavati.
Between the first entrance to the second entrance, there are several more pediments on the ground, Among of those pediments are lying on the ground, there is one on the north has very interesting story which depicting a chapter of Ramayana, where king of Lanka Ravana adducted Sita, and we also see two brothers (Rama and Laksmana) appearing near golden deer.
The first causeway measured of 67m long ended at the second Gopura. At the doorframes of the second entrance, there are inscriptions written by the builder Brahmin Yajnavaraha. The inscriptions tell us the date of the temple, tell us the king and his religion foundation, tell us the ritual ceremonies with the sandal woods to the Fire God and also tell us Destroyer God Shiva and his consorts who represented to a Linga and Yoni so on
At the second entrance, there is a laterite wall, this wall measures of 90m X 110m, and the same as a moat surrounding the wall as well. Move on the mouth of this moat from the Gopura a bit to south, there are several lintels and pediments lying on the ground. Among of those motifs there is a lintel which depicting Brahma riding on a Sacred Goose and accompany with two lions.
There is a short causeway crossing the moat and leading to the third Gopura. To have two causeways in the Khmer temple complex are the significant the rainbow bridges of connection from underworld to the world (first causeway) and from the world to heavens (second causeway).
Third Gopura :
This entry tower has a unique character, because the decoration motifs in this Gopura is quite different from any temples that we have seen. They designed with the double door gateways, an addition there are so beautiful spiral at the edge of the pediments and the spire of the entrance designed with extraordinary diamond motifs and the fire flame stay on top. But the motif of the fire flame which to serve as the entrance’s spire had stolen just in 1993, otherwise it would be the same as the one on the second one. On the lintel depicting Laksmei Goddess of Beauty and Good Fortune , She is blessing by two white elephants before married to Lord Vishnu.
At the third Gopura, there is also another enclosing laterite wall. This wall measured of 38m X 42m. When we enter to this Gopura, then we have a rectangular pedestal in the middle of the room. This pedestal there are two holes it might for holding the statues of God and Goddess Shiva and Uma
At the pediment of the fourth Gopura and just at the front of Bull Nandi, there isa unique detail carving depicting Shiva he Generated in the action of performance a dance.
The fourth Gopura, there is another wall built of brick. So far, this brick wall is much ruined, it's more than 2m high. This enclosing wall has a measure of 24m X 24m to separate from the public compound (third wall)to the VIP compound. Originally, the public would not enter to the central shrine at all. The central tower was a compound of the royal family and high priests to go in.
Inside this square compound, there are two library buildings. Library buildings built of laterite mixing with pink sandstone. Its real doors are facing to the west. Libraries of the Khmer temples must appear in pair one the north and another one on the south. It was the place to keep the holy text books and the place to pray to the Fire God as well.
Southern Library :
The southern library depicting a Hindu myth of Ravana king of demons Shaking Mt. Kalasa home of Shiva , While Shiva and his wife were having the meditation .
The west pediment of southern library got carving details depicting the story of Kamashutra God of Love Shooting Arrow of Love to Lord Shiva
The east pediment of northern library got a great reliefs depicting one of the chapters of Mahabaratta where Indra and Agni got a challenge.
The west pediment of north library got the relief depicting a chapter of Mahabaratta where Krisna thehero of the story came to kill his uncle king Kamsa, in order to revenge him to his parents. By the way, Krisna is provoking to remove all tyrants from Kurushatra region.
The central towers:
The central towers of Banteay Srei designed with three temple shrine and all thethree standing on a single platform. The three temple shrines are represented to the Trinity of Hindu. The one located in the middle dedicating to Lord Shiva, The northern shine was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, The southern tower shrine was dedicated to
Lord Brahma .
As the typical smaller shrine of the Khmer temple, the holy shrines of Banteay Srei got only one real door on the east, while three other doors designed with the blind ones. We believed that in each shrine originally used to install the statues of the Trinity, but now nothing remain.
The relief on the pediment depicted a chapter of Ramayana where two monkeys who are brother being struggled, then Rama and Laksmana took an intervention to shoot older monkey under the name of Valin, in order to help a younger monkey Sokriva. When Sokriva proclaimed as a king of monkey, then he could send his monkey troops to help Rama to flight against Ravana in Lanka for his wife Sita .