Banteay Kdei is a beautiful and peaceful ancient temple to explore within Angkor Archaeological Park. Different from the popular and crowded Angkor Wat, you can find peace and restfulness here at Banteay Kdei. The name Banteay Kdei translates to “Citadel of Chamber” in English. The temple was a chamber as well as a Buddhist temple. You will see an intriguing maze of chambers that are fascinating to explore and experience. It is a seemingly unpopular tourist site, but that is what makes it more interesting to learn about. The ancient temple has not been fully restored like some other temples, allowing tourists to explore the original and untouched state of the temple building. If compared with famous temples like Angkor Wat and Bayon, Banteay Kdei is more deteriorated due to its poor construction. They use low-quality sandstones and poor construction techniques. However, the standing temple with beautiful carvings will be worth your visit if you prefer a peaceful and quiet atmosphere.
Here are some of the things you need to know about Banteay Kdei temple.
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Explore the archaeological site of Banteay Kdei Temple
How to Get to the Temple
Banteay Kdei Temple is a Buddhist temple located in the southeast of Ta Prom and east of Angkor Thom Temple. The temple is in South Srah Srang Village, Norkor Thom Commune, Siem Reap District, Krong Siem Reap. The fastest way to get there is to ride on 968 Vithei, Charles De Gaulle, and head to the east of Angkor Wat Temple. The best choice is to rent a tuk-tuk from the city centre, which will take you about 20 minutes. You do not need to worry about how to get back to the city. It is not very difficult to find a drive back. But do not forget to get the tuk-tuk driver’s contact and tell him to wait or you can book the tuk-tuk for the whole day, so the driver will drive you whenever and wherever you want to go. If you do not want to hire a tour guide, sometimes, you can also ask the tuk-tuk drivers about the general history of the temple. Another way to get there is to rent a bike. If you like exercising, you will like this option better. It is fun and refreshing to ride pass the jungles, shades from the trees and wild monkeys along the way. If you do not want to cycle anymore, you can rent a motorbike from the shop around the night market. It is also very convenient for you to visit from temple to temple. You can also rent a motorcycle if you would like to. The price for both bike and motorcycle is affordable, and they can get you anywhere for a whole day.
A Brief History and Overview of the Temple
Banteay Kdei Temple was built in the mid 12th to early 13th centuries AD. Built during the reign of Jayavarman VII, the temple was either for Mahayana or Theravada Buddhism. On the other hand, people believe that the temple was built in honor of Jayavarman VII’s religious teacher. The temple remained hidden for a long time and found in 1920. Later, Banteay Kdei became a temple for Buddhist monks till the late 1960s. Banteay Kdei has a similar architectural style to Bayon. The temple has a less complicated pattern and is smaller in size, compared to other temples around the area. Besides, the structures of the temple are put together by two successive enclosed walls with two concentric galleries along the east cloister. The most noticeable style of this temple is the four central laterite stone pillars in the western pavilion. There are carvings of Buddha that appear on the surface of the pillars that create an unforgettable and magnificent sight.
Exciting Things You Can Explore at Banteay Kdei Temple
In the Angkor Archaeological Park area, you can find Banteay Kdei Temple’s west gate entrance from the east entrance tower of Ta Prohm Temple. From its entrance tower, you will have to walk about 5 minutes on the small road surrounded by the jungle. It gives you a feeling of hiking in the deep forest until you see the mysterious ruin standing in front of you. Surrounded by the green forest and bushes, the temple is a bit quiet and filled with fresh air. Inside the temple, there are a few hundred years old trees with some growing on top of the temple. Although there is nothing much in the temple, you can still be able to learn about its astonishing history.
There are many beautiful Apsara and Buddha sculptures that are as fascinating as other famous temples in the area. Moreover, there is a large stone marker written in Sanskrit, which is different from the nearby temples. There is a lot of uniqueness to this temple that you will love. Also, you can wander around the temple, explore, and discover nearby sites on your own. Banteay Kdei is very linear. When you think that you have walked to the end, you will see there is more to explore. For those who are into religion and history, Banteay Kdei Temple is one of the places that you should visit. You can also visit Banteay Kdei Temple to understand more about Khmer architectural style during the Angkor Empire. Besides, the difference between Banteay Kdei and other temples will make your trip to Siem Reap more incredible.
Nearby Temples and Attractions
After visit Banteay Kdei Temple, Srah Srang is one of the historical sites that you should visit. When you walk to the east gate of the temple, you will find Srah Srang on the opposite side. Srah Srang was the royal bathing pool or pool of ablutions during the reign of Rajendravarman in the 10th century. Later, King Jayavarman VII beautified it with a well laid out laterite stone and sandstone steps. The pond directly faces the sun amidst large trees which creates turquoise blue waters all year round. In the past, the king and his royal relatives used this pond for bathing or religious ceremonies. This place is one of the best places to have lunch after your visit to the temples nearby. Along the south and north of the pond, there are many Khmer restaurants with affordable prices. While having lunch, you can also enjoy the fresh air and the beautiful scenery of the lake. Moreover, after lunch, you can walk around the pond or sit on the stone near the water to relax. You can also sit there to watch sunset reflection, which will make it an exciting experience.
Bat Chum Temple
Another nearby temple to visit is Bat Chum Temple, which is a small early Buddhist temple in the mid 10th century. A Mahayana Buddhist minister Kavindrarimathana built this temple, during the reign of Rajendravarman. You can find this temple in the south of Srah Srang about 400 meters with a single entrance tower. Inside the plan, you can find 3 inline brick towers that almost collapse but still preserve its beauty and magnificence. In each tower, you will find a different inscription signed by three distinct persons. On the entrance, there are inscriptions about dedication to Buddhism, praise to architect, and admonishment of local elephant handlers. You will find this place less crowded and quieter suitable for those who want to enjoy their visit alone. Besides, you will learn how this temple was playing a unique role during the time that Hinduism was dominant.
Kutisvara Temple is a magnificent old ruin that rarely visits by tourists besides the local neighborhood. It is a small hidden temple around the area. So if you are someone who likes to take some adventure, this is the one for you. It is not very difficult to find, but you will gain a completely different vibe and experience visiting this temple. The temple is almost completely ruined, so there is not much to see. But it is a must-visit temple if you are an enthusiast who likes exploring mysterious and hidden temples. To get there, you need to take a walk from Banteay Kdei on a small path along with rice paddles. After walking past a few local houses, you will begin to see this temple.
Banteay Kdei is a great place in Angkor Archaeological Park you should visit. It brings out a peaceful and calm vibe if you would like a break from the crowded and famous temples. Since it is not really a popular site, Banteay Kdei is the place for those who prefer to enjoy the quietness of nature where you sit and listen to the sounds of nature. At the same time, you will get to see and explore beautiful carvings on the walls of the temple. Plus, there are many nearby temples around it that you can visit. Some of them are surrounded by the forest that can take you a while to find them. It is always a unique and fun experience to go the extra mile to see mysterious and unvisited places around the area.