Monday, December 3, 2007

Bantaey Srei: Showcasing Khmer Art at its Best

She walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies;
And all that's best of dark and bright
Meet in her aspect and her eyes:
Thus mellowed to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies.

- Lord Byron

One of the first few poems I memorized by heart when I was in college was Lord Byron’s She Walks in Beauty. This was because of the tv series, Beauty and the Beast (Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman), which I religiously watched before hitting the bed. They used Byron’s poem as an opening line for their teaser.

When we visited Banteay Srei on our second day, this particular poem came to mind. This temple can be summed up in one word: beautiful! A treasure tucked away in the countryside. It's like a lady who's beauty you'll appreciate more once you get closer and closer.

gopura I

Tourists entering the Gopura I.

Oki and I agreed that among the many temples we’ve visited, this is one temple that we both explored with great awe and amusement. We're always tempted to touch and feel. Makalaglag panga, pare! (Jaw dropping, dude!).

gopuras I and II

Gopura I and Gopura II going to the inner enclosure.

devata and warrior

A stone window commonly featured with lathe-turned balusters. This kind of window is also found inside the main ruins of Angkor Wat. (Left photo) I spotted one of the sweepers in the temple taking her rest. I caught her staring at the passing tourists. I love her languid mood amidst the vigorous and noisy crowd of visitors. (Right photo)


Another intricate carvings I found at the brick shrine. I am not familiar with this one but it made me stop to look and take some shots. The mythical creature with 7 heads and the half human-half animal creatures around him are just stunning to watch.

So anyway, when we got to the temple (20km north from Angkor), we met a bunch of young vendors selling postcards and souvenirs (again!). One of the kids was selling Lonely Planet books and book guides on Ancient Angkor. I got interested in the latter, he sold it to me for $12 and I made some surprising reactions saying that it’s too expensive (I learned to exaggerate my reactions, which is part of the trick in haggling for a cheaper price).

“Okay 10 dolla!" he immediately retorted. “Nope, 5 dollars” I insisted. He showed me the original price at the backcover of the book which costs $27.95 and told me that he’s giving me a good price already. I refused. “Okay lady 8 dolla!” “No way. Forget it!” I motioned to leave trying to catch up with Oki and Lyn who were already showing their 3-day pass at the guards in front of the temple. “Okay 5 dolla miss!” the kid yelled and followed me. I stopped and smiled. I was thinking of doing another haggle but I saw the frustration on his face so I gave him the 5 dollars.

I was reading the book the other day and it looks like I got my money’s worth. Definitely a good read. The photos are awesome too.

false door

One of the many 'false doors' following the long gallery near the central shrine. On the side are devatas (divine nymphs) with extended earlobe.

Bantaey Srei is referred to as “Citadel of the Women” or “Citadel of Beauty” which I think suits the description of this temple very well. It is known for its exquisite decorative carvings on the pink sandstone making this a distinctive feature among the temples surrounding Angkor. No wonder this temple is considered as the “Jewel among Khmer Art”.


Devata located at the South sanctuary. (Left photo) Shiva's dance of destruction. (Right photo)


Pink water lilies growing at the back moat of the temple. (Left photo) A Cambodian girl whom we found sitting inside the temple. She gave us that white flower. I kindly asked if she could pose for me, which she gladly obliged. I find her really pretty with that flower. I love the color of her skin and the innocent smile in her eyes. (Right photo)

Built during the 2nd half of 10th century, Bantaey Srei is dedicated to Tribhuvanamaheshvara, the Great Lord of the Threefold World. Entering the gopuras, you will be mesmerized by the extraordinary carvings with special focus on mythological narratives among its pediments and lintels. Likewise, the temple with its miniature proportions is located in a peaceful, isolated, semi-wooded setting that you will appreciate visiting this place all the more.


Indra on his three-headed elephant Airavata.


The headless Shiva fighting an elephant and a garuda.


This is the moat located in front of the temple. Every temple in Angkor has a moat which eventually overflow during the rainy season. There's another one at the back, all of them with growing lilies on it (pink, white, and silver blue).

The carvings on the wall were preserved. Some of the inscriptions on the floor are still there, which I find truly amazing. Since we do not have a tour guide, we would stop by and listen in to a group of tourists who have one and who would tell them stories about the carvings. It is interesting to know that a series of carvings on the pediments could tell a great story of exploration and adventure.



kyels said...

A fairly ancient and wonderful place to visit. I'd love to see those intricate carvings and I believe the histories about those carvings and temples are absolutely amazing.


pieterbie said...

Wow, what beauty, the temple as well as the young girl :-)
Love the light on her face, indeed.
Those carvings are just awesome, had I been there with you, you would have likely had to drag me away from this site.
As far as I'm concerned: the best so far. Or maybe it is just your photos?

Sidney said...

Indeed, wonderful architecture. Nice pictorial.
I see that you know how to bargain! ;-)

ferdz said...

Hey I like that Byron poem, I remember listening to the casette soundtrack of that series as well. I grew up with that series. Hehe.

Anyways, Bantaey Srei is also a fave of mine. I love your shots here, but I always felt, even on my own shots that is doesn't really give much justice to the place. As if you could see it in person, you'll be overblown by the details in each corner, and i mean each square inch area. Hahaha.

Uy bumili ka rin ng xerox book hehe. I bought a lonely planet bootleg there for 5 dollars din. :P

Red Baron said...

Hello there you. I know it's been a while since I stopped by and left something but I do try to look in as frequently as possible, your photography is always worthy of note and as such I have chosen you as 1 of the 3 to whom I award a ROAR.

Details put in my last post.

Jim said...

too bad that the only photos I was able to shoot in Cambodia are cases of foot and mouth disease (too gross for some). I envy your ability to manipulate the lens! well, darating din tayo diyan, may camera na eh.. eheheh! :)

cathy said...

look at those relief sculptures. what attention to details. we couldn't agree more when you said: It's like a lady who's beauty you'll appreciate more once you get closer and closer. great job!

tien said...

once again, beautiful pictures and wonderful information from you. i got to go on a holiday one of these days and take those photographs myself!

my gulch said...

thanks. photos are just one-dimensional represention of it. you must go there and feel its essence. standing in front of it, i am having this urge to touch it. but i am trying not. imagine if all the tourists have this kind of urge. this temple is visited at least a thousand tourist a day, what will be left of these temples. did i just make sense in there? hmm

the best so far? wow, thanks. the place is really beautiful. you been very consistent in appreciating every photo of a girl i posted. it's precisely a fourth of the reason i am posting at least one every now and then. hehe. for Mr. Beyen's pleasure.

of course. bargaining is part of my survival although i must admit that between me and Oki, i look like a neophyte. i hardly get a good bargain.

may cassette ka nun? aba naman. i am impressed. hehe. nawiwirduhan na nga ako ngayon pag naalala ko na peborit ko pala yang series na yan. tas lately ko na lang nalaman ang tunay na itsura ni ROn Perlman, natawa ako. siya pala yung sa Hellboy, nyahaha! YUng nabili kong bookguides, hindi siya photocopied. mukhang orig talaga, pati yung quality ng pics. yung Lonely Planet Cambodia na nabili ko din, yun ang xeroxed..halata naman eh. kaya pala mura mga LP dun.

appreciate the ROAR, mate! thanks...will get to it!

uy ano nabili mong cam? hehe. oo yakang-yaka mo yan. ikaw pa. you have the keen eye, remember?

thanks...appreciate it.

yea, you should. break away from work and tutoring and take a nice vacation in Cambodia. you'll love it.

Anonymous said...

namimilipit na ko sa inggit, haha :3

dito ka lang ba nagpopost ng pics? hehe. ipipimp ko sana sayo yung eh. -__-;;

handyfemme said...

- okay that was me (handyfemme)

dodong flores said...

Wow! These are nice photos you got here...

Anonymous said...

ganda naman. sana ako rin makapunta dun saka yung camera bago na rin

tutubi living in philippines

Photo Cache said...

great capture. thanks for sharing these.

my gulch said...

ang totoo'y may isa pa akong photo blog na mine-maintain sa aminus3 pero di ko pa na-update. walang oras. dito lang talaga ako nag-update sa ngayon. multiply? hehe. yung mga kasama ko dito wide user ako di ko pa nasusubukan.

uy salamat!

malapit na yan. i am sure. go, go!

photo cache,
hey thanks for dropping by. appreciate it.

dodong flores said...

You're welcome :D

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