Located at the north-east corner of the North Baray, a bit off the way, this temple is rarely visited, a quiet and charming site.
Entering from the west, visitors pass by the face tower of the third enclosure.
A large causeway crosses a moat; Beyond the door pavilion of the second enclosure – a laterite wall again – is a gallery with four gate towers. The central tower sheltered a statue of the Buddha on the Naga Mucalinda, which is now kept in the depot of the Angkor Conservation.
There are some pediment reliefs, depicting a short legged bodhisattva. 173 Devata are in niches, some of them are framed by Naga.
At the north side of the causeway is an intriguing relief of the Churning of the Sea of Milk.
The east face tower is overgrown by a wrangler fig; reliefs are partly veiled, a romantic view.
Deep in the forest, Ta Nei is located 200 m off the west bank of the East Baray and orientated to the baray.
The temple made the core of a monastery; the east and west gates have remained of the outer enclosure, 195 by 170 m.
U-shaped basins supplied the monks with water.
The inner enclosure consists of twelve towers or pavilions, ten of which are linked by an external gallery.
Reliefs depict Buddhist myths and Devata.
The most interesting relief, at the east face of the outer east gate, is now hidden by a wooden scaffold.
Roveda describes it: “In the lower register, emaciated figures with very swollen stomachs kneel in veneration of the Lokeshvara above them. They have been interpreted as the deceased that have not had the final burial [...] begging for the total liberation from the earth.”
Just east of Ta Keo a small and more and more bumpy road runs to the north, c. 800 m. You enter the temple near the west outer gate. May be this road is sometimes closed for vehicles.
Banteay Thom means "The Big Citadel". So it looks: enclosed by a stately wall and a gallery with gates to west and, much bigger, to east, are three stately towers, lined north-south, and two fire shrines.
The enclosure wall opens to the east and west with gates. A cruciform terrace precedes the stately east gate.
Similar to Prasat Prei Prasat there are a series of water basins in the outer enclosure.
The arrangement of the towers is peculiar, like at a Shiva temple. There are numerous reliefs; the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are scratched out.
Recently many Devata reliefs were rudely damaged.
See the 'Great Departure' at the south face of the southern tower.
Credits and References
- Lajonquière (map of Banteay Thom, modified)
- Roveda 2005, p. 412.
Locally also called Prasat Chan Ta Oun, Prasat Prei Prasat consists of a single tower with mandapa, plus a fire shrine, all enclosed by a laterite wall with gates to east and west.
It is surrounded by a chain of water basins, bordered by laterite steps. These water basins had to supply the monks. The entire compound was enclosed by a moat.
The temple made the centre of a Buddhist monastery. The base of the tower's walls is sheathed by a second wall, decorated like a half gallery.
The pediment relief at the east entrance shows the standing Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara between Vishnu and Brahma. His face is scratched out.
A new laterite road branches north from the road west of Angkor Wat, after 1.5 km. Follow this road some 4.5 km.
After the big bridge, just before the next, smaller bridge you find a stall at the right side, were they sell water and sugar cane juice. Here you ask for Ghim.
Ghim, 17, is living nearby. (His sister can also make the job.) Ask Ghim for 'Banteay Thom'. There you ask him for 'Prasat Chan Ta Oun'. He will show you the way.
You need a motor bike and may be dust protection; the Angkor ticket is not required. It is a fine and easy morning trip.
Date: Late 12th to early 13th centuries
Reign: Jayavarman VII (1181 - c. 1220)
Located just north of the North Baray.
Reference: V. Roveda, Images of the Gods, p. 415.
With all pediments on the ground.
Located 7.5 km north-east of central Angkor Thom, this temple was built in the era of king Jayvarman VII (1181 - 1215/20) as a dharmasala or fire shrine at the Royal Road from Angkor to Phimai.
It is well preserved but fiercely overgrown.
The Prasat Preah Phtau, east of Banteay Prei, was also a fire shrine