Small Circuit Tour from Siem Reap and the temples of Prasat Kravan, Banteay Srei and Banteay Samre

April 2013 

After the tour of the temple of Ta Keo, including in the "Small Circuit" near Siem Reap and the other temples of Angkor, I go on a short trip to discover the magnificent temple of Banteay Srei built in red sandstone and afterwards the temple of Banteay Samre in pink sandstone, where you can observe the evolution of Khmer art and architecture in different centuries.

Door to the temple
The temple of Takeo is part of the so-called "Small Circuit", a group of temples of Angkor farther from Siem Reap, which also belongs to the Temple of Tomb Raider already seen in the previous page. The tour begins at the temple of Ta Keo going past one of the gates with the sculpture of the Buddha's face at its top.
Temple of Ta Keo
The temple of Ta Keo was entirely built with sandstone before 1000 AD and consists of a huge stepped pyramid with steep walls, on top of which there are five large towers.
Temple Ta Keo in Cambodia
Temple small circuit Siem Reap

The stairs with steps that allow you to reach the top of Ta Keo temple are very steep and require special care both when you climb and when you come down.
Temple Takeo Temple Ta Keo Siem Reap
Tempile of Small Circuit in Cambodia

Photo of Ta Keo temple. At the top of the temple of Ta Keo there are large towers that housed the shrines. The peculiarity of the temple of Ta Keo, is that there are decorations and low-reliefs that characterize the walls of the other temples of Angkor.
Ta Keo Cambodia
View on the jungle from a summit of the towers of the temple of Ta Keo.
Prasat Kravan
The tour among the temples of Angkor continues leaving the "Small Circuit" and visiting archaeological sites farther from Siem Reap and the other temples of Angkor. In these photos the small temple of Prasat Kravan, dating back to the X century AD and built entirely of brick brownstone, which has recently been cleaned and restored (some work was still in progress at the time of the visit).
Temple Prasat Kravan
Temple of Prasat Kravan Temple in bricks  in Cambodia

The temple of Prasat Kravan is Hindu and is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, depicted in some low-reliefs directly carved into the bricks that make up the walls of the inner shrine.
Temple in Cambodia
The tour of the Angkor temples continues with a visit to the small but spectacular temple of Banteay Srei, built in red sandstone and dating back to the X century AD. The temple of Banteay Srei is located about 40km from the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia, at the same distance from the other temples of Angkor.
Entrance door to the temple Bas-relief in sandstone
Rapresentation of  Naga

Photos of temple of Banteay Srei. The first thing that comes to your attention visiting the temple of Banteay Srei is the beautiful decorations extremely detailed and in excellent condition. The red color, due to the type of sandstone used for the construction, makes it very different from the other main Angkor temples.

Door to the temple
Sculpture in sandstone

The magnificent decorations and bas-reliefs over the doors, which appear here for the first time in the history of the Khmer Empire. The temple itself is an exception of the Khmer architecture, because it looks like a miniature of the temple itself, as we will see from the photos above.
The Banteay Srei temple was dedicated to Lord Shiva and is therefore a Hindu temple, wanted by an adviser to the king Rajendravarman, around the year 960 AD.
Temple  Banteay Srei TempleBanteay Srei
The hallways and doors with their beautiful low-reliefs lead to the spectacular central sanctuary where each element is finely decorated. The statues of monkeys are reproductions, because the originals were removed and moved to the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh.
Banteay Srei Banteay Srei - Cambodia
Temple Banteay Srei in Cambodia

The beautiful central sanctuary of the temple of Banteay Srei. Fortunately, the area is fenced and can only be observed from a distance, so there are no tourists to be photographed playing in front of the statues and low-reliefs.
Statues of monkeys

Photo of Banteay Srei temple. More photos of this particular temple of Angkor in Cambodia.
Khmer Art Vali and Surgiva
The amazing frontons above the doors. In particular, the fronton in the picture on the right represents the duel between Vali and Surgiva, two monkey princes.

The tower buildings typical of Khmer, but miniature size when compared to most of the other temples built in the following decades.
Khmer Architecture
The temple of Banteay Srei, with its compact dimensions, seen from the outside. The wall is one of the few elements made of bricks.
The tour through the temples of Angkor in Cambodia continues with a visit to the temple of Banteay Samre, characterized by a slight pinkish hue due to the particular sandstone used in its construction.
Temple Banteay Samre
Photo of Banteay Samre. The temple of Banteay Samre was built by King Suryavarman II in the twelfth century AD and it is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Banteay Samre Banteay Samre - Cambodia
The style of construction of the temple of Banteay Samre is defined as "Angkor Wat", as it uses many decorative features that can be seen in this famous temple.
The long handrail that represent the body and the head of the Naga (snake with seven heads).
Play of forms and perspectives at the temple of Banteay Samre.
God Vishnu
The tour to the temple of Banteay Samre ends coming out from a side door, with a beautiful low-relief depicting the god Vishnu.

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English translation by Lorena Anzani.