Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Farmer's Temple and Lady's Citadel?

We had another interesting day in the countryside on the second day of our Siem Reap tour. Our guide took us to see two sites, Banteay Samre, a 12th century temple dedicated to a farmer (who supposedly became king) and Banteay Srei (Citadel of Women) from the 10th century - odd naming combinations in both cases but they are two of my favourites temples among the many we had seen on this trip.  They are smaller, more compact, highly detailed and exquisitely decorated - very easy to like and you can judge for yourself from the pictures below.  They were both made with hard red sandstone which were easier to carve and resulted in what are considered excellent examples of Khmer classical carving. 

On the way to the two Banteays, we dropped by Pre Rup, an unusual brick temple, quite steep to climb and which we didn't explore. After the exhausting day at Angkor Wat, we found the steep steps a little intimidating and was quite content to play lazy tourist, taking some pictures with my telelens instead.

Throughout the drive in the country, we saw many Cambodian country houses on stakes with thatched roofs.  We also caught a glimpse of one of the local cottage industries, the making of palm sugar.   On the way back, we visited another stone temple hidden in the jungle, Ta Nei, also with trees growing out of it.  We then hiked up the hill to the Bakheng Temple to join the crowd watching the sunset, but seeing the haze around the sun that evening, we could almost predict what it was going to look like.  It had been a long day and coupled with the fact that I was not feeling great, we did not stay.  There was still sunrise at Angkor Wat the following morning to consider - yet another touristy ritual that must be observed...

Pre Rup - made with brick, laterite and sandstone, hence its reddish glow.  I can imagine it could be quite amazing at sunrise and sunset when the red bricks catch the sun.  Too bad it's a distance from town.

A typical stake house in the countryside.  Obviously the stakes are needed because of floods during the monsoon season.

Angels in Angkor

Banteay Samre - the red sandstone gave this temple a different timbre

double walls were typical

All the buildings were raised with horizontal mouldings - imagine what they must have looked like when the interior moat was filled with water

Both here in Banteay Samre and in Banteay Srei, the pediments were quite large in proportion to the portals and contained detailed carvings of whole scenes from Hindu mythology

Detailed carvings on the library

In between Banteay Samre and Banteay Srei, we saw how palm sugar was boiled in a large pan and then filled into these round moulds

Our guide Sarak with a male palm flower

Banteay Srei portal - again large pediments with intricate carvings

Banteay Srei is very similar to Banteay Samre both in themes and in style.

The Banteay Srei libraries are very similar to the Banteay Samre libraries.  There are again two of them in each of the temples.

The Banteay Srei buildings, like the ones at Banteay Samre, were also raised with interior moat. 

On the way into town we dropped by yet another stone temple that was hidden in the jungle, Ta Nei, which, like Ta Prohm, also have trees growing out of it. 

and this was of course a library!

Multiple portals and intricate carvings

Watching the sunset at Bakheng Hill - another touristy thing to do...

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