Banteay Kdei is one of the lesser visited temples within the Angkor Archaeological Park near Siem Reap with a unique design and some interesting stone carvings, but notably one of the more dilapidated structures in the park. To visit you need to buy an entry ticket to the park which currently costs $37 USD for a single day, $62 USD for three days, and $72 USD for a week. The three pass is the best option as the highlights of the 400 square kilometre park are too numerous to visit in a single day.
About Banteay Kdei Temple
Compared to many of the other temples in the area relatively little is known about the history of Banteay Kdei. The temple was built towards the end of the 12th Century or possibly the start of the 13th Century during the reign of Jayavarman VII, who was prolific temple builder and Banteay Kdei bares similarities to some of his other creations such as the nearby Ta Prohm and Preah Khan temples. The name Banteay Kdei means ‘Citadel of the Monks’ in reference to the central and oldest part of the temple which features a building with small individual chambers which are presumed to have served as living accommodation for resident Buddhist monks. The temple has previously been known by other names, such as ‘Kuti’, which is a word used across much of contemporary South East Asia to refer to the living quarters of Buddhist monks.
Banteay Kdei Temple consists of four walled enclosures:
- Outer enclosure: This external area is mostly open space bounded by four walls each, with an elaborate gopura tower entrance in the centre. The entrances bear images of the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara and the mythical Garuda. On the inner perimeter of the outer enclosure is a moat forming a protective barrier around the next enclosure.
- Second enclosure: Like the outer enclosure, this space is also bounded by four walls each with an elaborate entrance, only two of which are functional as these are the ones which are accessible by causeways across the moat. The functional entrances have a distinctive cruciform shape. There are three passages with large pillars in this area decorated with pictures of women. One of the buildings has been named the ‘Hall of Dancers’ for this this reason.
- Third enclosure: Measuring 58 metres by 50 metres this area has two entrances, on the north and south faces of the enclosures. This part of the temple is notable for its library and frescoes of apsara, which are supernatural female creatures inhabiting cloud and water spiritual realms.
- Inner closure: An area measuring 36 metres by 30 metres containing the monks cells for which the temple is famous.
Location of Banteay Kdei Temple
Banteay Kdei Temple is located 11 km by road from Siem Reap Town.