Banteay Kdei Temple
Banteay Kdei in Siem Reap
Banteay Kdei was originally erected as a Buddhist monastery. Bas-reliefs depicting the deities and principles of Buddhism can be seen throughout the temple. The carvings look wonderful against the haphazard appearance of the swarming jungle vegetation and the fallen stones of Banteay Kdei.
The sandstone used to support Banteay Kdei is of inferior grade, resulting in weak, unreliable structures. Additionally, some of the building techniques employed to construct the temple were sloppily executed. These elements, along with the claws of time, have resulted in Banteay Kdei’s current state of advanced ruin. But don’t be mislead. Banteay Kdei’s ruined appearance doesn’t take away from the temple’s charm and beauty. Many travelers prefer the more ‘ruined’ temples, as opposed to the neatly preserved ones. Hiking through the fallen stones of Banteay Kdei will affect you with the same charm that must’ve affected the early explorers.
Banteay Kdei is similar in design to the more popular Ta Prohm, which is also a vastly unrestored temple that has been swallowed by the jungle. Because Banteay Kdei is not as richly ornamented as Ta Prohm, it does not receive as much tourist traffic. Furthermore, Ta Prohm is more consumed by nature, which has made it one of the most photographed destinations in Cambodia. But if you’re looking for a less touristed alternative to Ta Prohm, then Banteay Kdei is worth a visit.
Banteay Kdei is located just beyond Ta Prohm in the direction of Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre. It is also close enough to visit by bicycle from Siem Reap if you are reasonably fit and want to save on transport costs. Do note however that while it is possible to bypass the main temples entirely to get here from Siem Reap, unless you already have your temple pass you will still need to go to the Apsara Authority booths on the road to Angkor Wat to buy your ticket first.
Many visitors choose smaller temples for their sunrise tour, simply to experience daybreak in a more peaceful setting than the free-festival atmosphere of Angkor Wat. In fact if you arrive at any of the main attractions and find they are just too busy, then you may be advised just to get back into your car or tuk tuk, or on your bike, and head straight for the relative tranquility of an outlying temple. You can then return to the tourist behemoths later in the day, when visitor numbers may have dropped, even if the temperature will have risen.
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