BanteaySrei temple was built by a Brahmin Yajnavaraha with his younger brother in 967AD in the middle of 10th century. While at that period, king Jayavarman V wasstill very young about 15 years old, when his father king Rajendravarman II haddied. Thus, all administrative affairs and religious practices include to buildtemples was under organized by his guru Brahmin Yajnavaraha. BrahminYajnavaraha was also a royal blood who was a grandson of king Hurshavarman I.
BanteaySrei was a new name which meaning in Khmer is "Citadel of Woman". Butaccording to inscription on the door piers of its structure tells us that theoriginal name of this temple was Isvarapura which meaning inCambodian is the city of Shiva.Thus, from its origin name we can tell that Banteay Srei was a Hindu temple anddedicate to Shiva.
BanteaySrei is just only temple in the Angkor periodthat built of pink and yellow sandstone. The pink and yellow sandstone are highquality material more than the gray and green sandstone that used to buildAngkor Wat and Bayon so on. As pink and yellow sandstone are so hard, that iswhy the carving of Banteay Srei are still good condition and very exquisite.
TheTemple wasrediscovered by French in 1914 , but the site wasn’t cleared until 1924 . thetheft of the several important pieces of sculptures and lintels by a Europeanexpedition , meticulously planned by the young Frenchman , Malraux , caused agreat scandal in 1923 , but hastened the archaeological work . The thieves wereheld under house arrest in Phnom Penhand only released after the return of the stolen pieces .
Thenin 1924, ten years after they knew itslocation, Mr Henri Marchal a French architect in the Angkor Conservation Departmentwas sent to study a method of anastylosis with Dutch in Borobudur temple of Indonesia. Because at that time Dutchrestored Borobudur temple in a system ofanastylosis.
Anastylosisis Greecewords that mean, "When a pillar had fallen down, they have to raise itspillar back to its origin spot". It is also meaning that the anastylosissystem is avoid to use the new material and avoid to carve the same detailsfrom its origin as well.
MrHenri Marchal was getting a great success for his job of restoration BanteaySrei temple for about 10 years. We noticed that when they saw Banteay Srei before restoration it completely collapsed and shrouded by jangle. Saying thatMr. Henri Marchal faced a difficult security problem with Khmer Isarak whostruggled in gorilla war fought against French colonial during his teams workedin Banteay Srei. That is why some part of this temple is never done. But nowthe Swiss teams will continue the restoration from French.
This entrance structuredecorated with Indra God of Rain and King of Paradise riding on three headedelephant’s name Aravata.
Belowis Kala face figure. Kala was a monster guardian over the temple doorway . Atthe edge of the pediment there are Nagas coming out from the mouth of Makara.Makara is a Hindu mythical sea creature combined with sneak body, lion head andsometimes with elephant trunk. At the door frames of the first entrancestructure there are octagonal balusters with its very beautiful details.Octagonal is significant of the eight direction of the universe.
Thisentrance structure originally had used woods to build the roof, due to theearlier period of Angkor in the 9th to 10th century; the Khmer monumental temples alwaysused the timber for its roof construction, instead of using sandstone.
Khmermonumental temples share very similar layout and plans. For example, at first,you will have an entrance, then you will see a causeway leading to temple, andthe moat surrounding so on. However, of course, their architectural templestyles are completely different. The first causeway of Banteay Srei hasmeasured of 67m long and flanking with 34 sandstone lanterns on each side. Thiscauseway paved by laterite. Lanterns are symbolic of flame.
Along this causeway, therewere two halls, one on the each side. Originally, these halls were using as aresting area for the pilgrims.
At the first causeway,there are several constructions with empty roof. But their pediments, theirbalusters, and their lintels so on are still excellent shape with veryexquisite carving into the pink sandstone. According to inscriptions, thosestructures served as resting halls and to install the sacred Hindu statues aswell
When we walk in for a halfof causeway if we turn to the north this building was serving as a place forpilgrims taking a rest its pink sandstone pediment has excellent carving, whichdepicting Narashimha is tearing chest of Hiranyakashipu. Narashimha is half manand half lion. He was a number four of Vishnu incarnations who came to convincethe Demon king Hiranyakashipu in order to retrieve the three worlds from thistyrant ruler.
To the south of midwayfrom the causeway, there are three resting houses. The middle is the biggest othertwo which are poor condition, but the one in the middle has excellent pediment.This pediment is depicting Shiva riding on his Bull with his wife Pavati.
Betweenthe first entrance to the second entrance, there are several more pediments onthe ground, Among of those pediments are lying on the ground, there is one onthe north has very interesting story which depicting a chapter of Ramayana,where king of Lanka Ravana adducted Sita, and we also see two brothers (Ramaand Laksmana) appearing near golden deer.
Thefirst causeway measured of 67m long ended at the second Gopura. At the doorframes of the second entrance, there areinscriptions written by the builder Brahmin Yajnavaraha. The inscriptions tell us the date of the temple, tellus the king and his religion foundation, tell us the ritual ceremonies with thesandal woods to the Fire God and also tell us Destroyer God Shiva and hisconsorts who represented to a Linga and Yoni so on
Atthe second entrance, there is a laterite wall, this wall measures of 90m X 110m, and the same as a moat surrounding the wall as well. Move onthe mouth of this moat from the Gopura a bit to south, there are several lintels and pediments lying on theground. Among of those motifs there is a lintel which depicting Brahma riding on a Sacred Goose andaccompany with two lions.
Thereis a short causeway crossing the moat and leading to the third Gopura. To havetwo causeways in the Khmer temple complex are the significant the rainbowbridges of connection from underworld to the world (first causeway) and from the world to heavens (second causeway).
Thisentry tower has a unique character, because the decoration motifs in thisGopura is quite different from any temples that we have seen. They designedwith the double door gateways, an addition there are so beautiful spiral at theedge of the pediments and the spire of the entrance designed with extraordinarydiamond motifs and the fire flame stay on top. But the motif of the fire flamewhich to serve as the entrance’s spire had stolen just in 1993, otherwise itwould be the same as the one on the second one. On the lintel depicting Laksmei Goddess of Beauty and GoodFortune , She is blessing by two white elephants before married to Lord Vishnu.
Atthe third Gopura, there is also another enclosing laterite wall. This wallmeasured of 38m X 42m. When we enterto this Gopura, then we have a rectangular pedestal in the middle of the room.This pedestal there are two holes it might for holding the statues of God andGoddess Shiva and Uma
Atthe pediment of the fourth Gopura and just at the front of Bull Nandi, there isa unique detail carving depicting Shiva heGenerated in the action of performance a dance.
Thefourth Gopura, there is another wall built of brick. So far, this brick wall ismuch ruined, it's more than 2m high. This enclosing wall has ameasure of 24m X 24m to separate from the public compound (third wall)to the VIP compound. Originally, the public would not enter to the centralshrine at all. The central tower was a compound of the royal family and highpriests to go in.
Insidethis square compound, there are two library buildings. Library buildings builtof laterite mixing with pink sandstone. Its real doors are facing to thewest. Libraries of the Khmer templesmust appear in pair one the north and another one on the south. It was theplace to keep the holy text books and the place to pray to the Fire God as well.
Thesouthern library depicting a Hindu myth of Ravanaking of demons Shaking Mt. Kalasa home of Shiva , While Shiva and his wife werehaving the meditation .
Thewest pediment of southern library got carving details depicting the story of Kamashutra God of Love Shooting Arrowof Love to Lord Shiva .
Theeast pediment of northern library got a great reliefs depicting one of the chapters of Mahabaratta where Indra and Agni got a challenge.
Thewest pediment of north library gotthe relief depicting a chapter ofMahabaratta where Krisna thehero of the story came to kill his uncle king Kamsa, in order to revenge him to his parents. By the way, Krisnais provoking to remove all tyrants from Kurushatra region.
Thecentral towers of Banteay Srei designed with three temple shrine and all thethree standing on a single platform. The three temple shrines are representedto the Trinity of Hindu. The onelocated in the middle dedicating to LordShiva, The northern shine was dedicated to Lord Vishnu, The southern tower shrine was dedicated to Lord Brahma .
Asthe typical smaller shrine of the Khmer temple, the holy shrines of BanteaySrei got only one real door on the east, while three other doors designed withthe blind ones. We believed that in each shrine originally used to install thestatues of the Trinity, but now nothing remain.
Therelief on the pediment depicted a chapter of Ramayana where two monkeys who are brother being struggled, then Rama and Laksmana took an intervention to shoot older monkey under the nameof Valin, in order to help a youngermonkey Sokriva. When Sokrivaproclaimed as a king of monkey, then he could send his monkey troops to helpRama to flight against Ravana inLanka for his wife Sita .