Banteay Kdei Temple
A band plays under a shaded pergola as you feel a thrill passing through your bones as you walk toward Beateay Kdei Temple.
There is a calm ambiance about this place as large, knotted trees sit between a few market stalls that sell their colorful merchandise, while you stroll along the shaded promenade.
Banteay Kdei means “Citadel of Chambers”, which was built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries and it is not hard to see where it got its name.
Stepping into the courtyard, originally flanked with six impressive lions and naga statues that guard the front of the temple, the entrance is reminiscent of South Gate Entrance. Buddha’s face points in the direction of north, south, east and west…which is a common theme in the ancient Khmer architecture.
Many open air courtyards are strewn with crumbling blocks that once made this structure so grand….but now they sit only as time forgotten remnants, which whisper lost secrets of the past. Displaying its picturesque ruins only adds to its mystique and if you are a photographic enthusiast – here is a good place to come; still showing impressive columns, carved statues but only a few high relief carvings.
Banteay Kdei Temple was still occupied by monks at various intervals over the centuries, even up until the 1960’s until war broke out in Cambodia.
As you walk through the temple, you will come across a decorated Buddha with an orange sash, where fresh offerings are given daily. If you are lucky enough, here you can receive a traditional blessing from an old monk, who sits on a mat near the Buddha.
In 1991 archaeology excavations at Banteay Kdei Temple discovered a 274 piece of a Buddha that was found buried 70 centimeters underground – but they could not work out why it was buried?
There are a number of theories but nobody knows for sure, but all the pieces were found in all in a straight line as if the Buddha had fallen and smashed. The question begs, could the Buddha have been covered over with the passage of time…and maybe the temples are a lot older than what we think?
During 2001, archaeology students were excavating the temple complex finding pottery, arrowheads, coins, jewelry, Buddha sculptures and even human skulls. During the dig, the students discovered 11 skeletons, which were buried in the soil that was surrounded by ceramics, tools, and adornments that are now housed in Preah Norodam Silhanouk Museum.
This only adds to the mystery of this temple that clearly held great significance – but we may never know what really happened or what it was used for.
TIP: Many areas in Banteay Kdei Temple are open and it is advisable to lather up with sunscreen – in the wet season best to take an umbrella and raincoat (raincoats can be purchased in Siem Reap for as little as $1.00).
There are lots of nooks and crannies to explore around this temple, so you may want to take a torch if you wish to see inside further.
The Temples of Siem Reap are an amazing sight to see and to get advice on getting your tickets, you may like to read our article Purchasing You Temple Tickets.