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Banteay Srei, Cambodia

I just realized that I never got around to continuing my posts on Siem Reap—and what’s worse is that I didn’t cover my favorite temple of them all. Since it’s about time that I revive my Flashback Friday series, I decided to give this gem the spotlight it deserves. So without further ado, I present to you the beautiful Citadel of Women, Banteay Srei.

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Banteay Srei is located in the Angkor Archaeological Park, but since it’s a long ways out from the main cluster of temples that includes the Angkor Wat, it’s often passed up for its more popular counterparts. But if you’re staying in Siem Reap for more than a weekend, you should definitely add this to your itinerary. You don’t even need to worry about the admission, since it’s covered by the Angkor Pass. The trip from town takes about an hour via remork, and it’s a great way to see more of the fields and small settlements housed in the park. It’s best to go here bright and early in the morning, so you can get the farthest destination out of the way before heading to the more accessible temples.

Dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, Banteay Srei is one of the most unique sights in the entire Angkor Park. One of the things that stuck with me about it was just how small it is compared to the other temples. Throw in how its surfaces are so intricately, gorgeously detailed, and I didn’t have trouble understanding why it’s known as the Citadel of Women/Beauty. Its femininity is reflected even in the pink sandstone that it’s constructed of. I was amazed at how the Khmers managed to carve such delicate designs into the stone and how these stood the test of time and the elements. Unfortunately, the inner courtyard is closed off to visitors, so I wasn’t able to get a closer view. I did enjoy studying the fallen pediments and lintels showcased outside the temple. Some of those reliefs are so elaborate that I could almost imagine those nagas and devatas bursting out of the stone and coming to life. Now, that would’ve made for one heck of a story!

Check out some of my photos of Banteay Srei below, and see if you don’t agree with its rep as “the jewel of Khmer art.”

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