It is hard to choose which temples were my favourite when I visited Cambodia recently. Especially as I am such a temple freak. I love them all! Each one has something special about it. Some tend to be more the structures that attract, whereas others – it is because of the detail of the stonework. Banteay Srei would definitely be one of those temples that amazes you with the detail that has gone into the stonework design. I seriously, cannot comprehend the minute work that it involved and the time it must have taken. On many of the panels, within the block of stone, there are layers or levels of detailed carving that defy belief. The name Banteay Srei – citadel of women could relate to a number of aspects of the temple. The delicacy of the ornate decorations, the diminutive size of the temple compared to others or the many carvings of the devatas. Our friend and guide Mickey’s explanation was that it was named so because the delicate work required the tiny hands of women to create it. I quite like that story. Whatever the lost story is, citadel of women is a very apt title. Of all the temples, it has an overwhelming sense of femininity about it. Like all the temples though it would have been lovely to wander through on ones own. The fact that the temple is so small makes it feel even more busy than it is. While you could certainly find an outside corner to yourself, the most interesting sections and carvings, were, as you would imagine, the busiest. Even to the point of squeezing past to get through. Can’t imagine what it would have been like in peak season.
I’m sure I am like many people who visit these places – I love a moment, or two, or three of solitude to just stand there and soak it all in. Close my eyes if need be and try to imagine when it was alive with people of the era. In the larger temples, I was able to do this but found the bustling of tourists a little too distracting in Banteay Srei to vague off into my own little world.