Banteay Srei or “Citadel of Women”” was not built by a King as the other Angkor temples. It was built by a Brahman of royal descent who was the spiritual teacher of King Jayavarman V. It is the only temple carved in hard pink sandstone in the Angkor region. It was discovered in 1914 by French archaeologists who described it as a “precious gem” and a “jewel in Khmer art”.
It is no incidence that Banteay Srei becomes one of the most famous Cambodia temples despite being one of the smallest temples in Angkor Complex. It owns the most exquisite carvings in the whole of Angkor with amazing mastery, perfection and accuracy of its design, which surprised all archaeologists, architects, scholars and visitors coming here. Amongst Banteay Srei highlights, the most impressive architecture are the refined carved walls of the central sanctuary and guardian sculptures in the corners of the central tower.
The central sanctuary is the prime example of its fine decoration – no space was not carved and the walls are covered with bass-reliefs of floral as well as geometrical motifs. The two inner libraries have two delicate pediments. The east facing pediment of the southern library portrays a scene from the Ramayana in which Shiva and his wife Uma are sitting on the summit of Mount Kailasa. The western pediment depicts the scene where the God of love Kama throws an arrow at Shiva to make him interested in Uma, and enraged by this distraction Shiva gazes upon him with his third eye reducing Kama to ashes. The east facing pediment of the northern library shows the scene where Indra, God of the sky, creates rain to put out a big fire in the forest started by Angi, god of fire, to kill a Naga that lived in the forest. The western fronton of this room depicts Krishna murdering his uncle because he tried to kill him when he was a child.