During the 10th century, Dignitaries built their own temples, with Royal privilege.
This private temple, consecrated 921, has five brick towers, surrounded by a moat. In the central and the northernmost towers we find – unique in Angkor art – brick reliefs at the inner walls of two towers.
In the central tower on the left side Vishnu's Three Strides , in the middle Vishnu as the supreme god with eight arms. On the right side is Vishnu on Garuda.
In the north tower Lakshmi, Vishnu 's consort.
At noon time one has the best light to see the reliefs.
This small temple was probably built in the second half of the 10th century, an inscription is dated 968. It is located at Wat Preah Enkosei, in northern Siem Reap, near the river.
There are two brick towers, the bases of two fire shrines, and remains of the east gate, surrounded by a laterite enclosure wall and a moat.
At the doorframes of the big tower are inscriptions. The towers are restored; the north tower is the only one complete brick tower in and around Angkor.
The temple may be modest, but the reliefs are sensational. Each of the reliefs gives the oldest representation of the subject.
The pediment shows the elegant legs of Krishna lifting Mount Govardhana.
Above the lintel is a frieze, picturing the Churning of the Sea of Milk (photo on top).
The style is naïve; it is unique in Khmer art.
Banteay Srei, originally: Isvarapura ("The 'City of Shiva'"), was erected by dignitaries as a private temple and consecrated 968.
Originally, it was built of brick. The buildings and reliefs, that we see today, are from the 11th and 12th centuries. There is no “Style of Banteay Srei”.
The central and south towers are dedicated to Shiva, the north tower to Vishnu.
It is located some 20 km north of Angkor near the first slopes of the Phnom Kulen.
Far away from other monuments, it was forgotten and overgrown. It was re-discovered only in 1914, and restored 1924 to 1936.
Reliefs cover the lintels, the pediments and the walls. In the pediments we find stories from mythology. In niches on the towers are charming gods and goddesses as guardians, wearing lotus flowers or spears.
Visitors enter the temple at the outer East Gopura IV. An avenue, flanked by halls runs to East Gopura III. Here you enter the enclosure III, framed by a laterite wall. You cross a moat. The inner temple is framed by two enclosure walls. You enter at East Gopura II; in front of East Gopura I is a fragmentary Nandi. The inner enclosure is cordoned. You go around and look at two fire shrines and three towers; in front of the central tower is a mandapa.
From east to west, or from outside to inside, the scale is gradually reduced, the inner enclosure the buildings are almost miniaturized.
- Indra on Airavan.
- Vishnu as Narasimha ('lion-men'), tearing the breast of a demon.
- Shiva and Uma on Nandi.
- Ravana robbing Sita
- Elephants pour lustral water on Lakshmi
- Dancing Shiva.
- Durga fighting the Buffalo Monster.
- Fire in the Khandava Forest (see below)
- Krishna killing the demon king Kamsa in his palace
- Ravana shaking Mount Kailasa
- Shiva killing Kama.
- Rama killing Valin
(You will find these numbers on the map.)
Fire in the Khandava Forest
|The relief:||Indra is sending a thunderstorm; Airavan, his mount, is standing on wavy lines, the rainwater. The parallel lines depict a coat of arrows, brandished by Krishna and Lakshmana, below left and right. The inhabitants of the forest are excited and want to escape. Birds and a three-headed naga are flying under the coat of arrows.|
|The myth:||Agni, the god of fire, wants to "eat" the forest and to kill the naga, his enemy. Indra, the friend of the naga, tries to stop the fire by a thunderstorm. Agni asks Krishna and Lakshmana for help. They stop the downpour with their arrows.|
It's a long way to Banteay Srei. Better you visit Banteay Srei in the afternoon. The temple closes at 5 pm.
- Glaize, p. 181-187; from there also the map.
- Briggs, p. 135-138.
- Roveda 2005, p. 347-350.