The sound of my alarm going off at four forty five in the morning is usually something I absolutely dread, but on this particular morning I felt a wave of excitement and adrenaline normally reserved only for special occasions. Given that this was the last day of our tour around the temples of Angkor by tuk-tuk, I was ecstatic to explore one of my favorites – Banteay Srei. As we meandered along the dark paths/roads passing rural Cambodian villages and farmland, I felt the cool morning breeze comforting my face. When we finally did arrive at the temple (this particular temple is one of the furthest away from the central ones) I was in for a real treat.
For the first time in all of the many years I’ve explored the Temples of Angkor, I was the first one to arrive. I couldn’t have wiped the smile off of my face even if you had paid me handsomely. As we wandered around the temple complex we felt as though we were actually exploring the temple rather than touring it. We were even given a special VIP tour (we did pay the guard a bit of money under the table) of an area of the temple that is normally off limits to tourists.
Banteay Srei is considered by many observers to be the ‘crown jewel’ of Khmer art given the elaborate and highly detailed decorative carvings lining its many walls. Built chiefly of red sandstone, this Hindu temple dedicated to the god Shiva was completed in the 10th century. The temple itself was once used as a University for Buddhist scholars. It’s personally one of our favorites in all of Angkor, Cambodia.
The following is a photo essay and travel video from our experience visiting Banteay Srei:
These distinct sculptures are one of the highlights of visiting Banteay Srei Temple.
A closer up photo of a statue with its arm broken off.
The intricate design and bas-relief carvings in Banteay Srei really set it apart from the other temples of Angkor.
Some more details of the relief carvings in sepia.
A series of doorways – going through each one makes you feel as though you’re traveling back in time.
Here Audrey is posing in one of the windows.
A closer up shot of Audrey in the same window.
Even the columns have detailed designs carved into them.
This is a photo from around the perimeter of the temple.
A framed shot through a doorway entrance.
Another perspective shot of the chiseled designs – many of which have crumbled over time.
This is easily the most colorful temple I visited in all of Angkor as showcased by this door.
The doorways are tiny as modeled here by Audrey Bergner.
This is a photo of the main entrance gate to Banteay Srei as I approached the temple.
Another shot of the door from a closer up perspective at Banteay Srei.
The main entrance gate leading to Banteay Srei.
I edited this shot to really enhance the colors which are impressive up close and in real life.
This is a travel video we took from Banteay Srei documenting our entire experience