Banteay Kdei Temple Tour in Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Bantaey Kdei is yet another temple in Angkor ravaged by nature like temple Ta Prohm but to a lesser degree. Probably that is why the authorities found it easier to restore the temple. However the restoration is done with mostly metal and wooden supports. Unless improved, they may fail to hold the deteriorating structures for long.

Banteay Kdei Temple Tour

Banteay Kdei Temple Tour

Banteay Kdei Temple Tour

There are 4 entrances to the temple, of which east and west gates are most used ones. It was shocking to see that so much of the interiors are in ruins. We explored them slightly dazed. The tuk tuk driver dropped us at east gate and exploring east gate onward we exited through west. Prime reason for its ruinous condition is the faulty plan of the structures. Add to that the stones used are of inferior quality. Four Buddha heads adorn the gopura (tower) at the entrances to the temple. Both the face towers seem to be in good condition. Historians believe that the faces of the towers represent the King Jayavarman VII and also the God Lokesvara (also known as Avalokiteshvara).

Banteay Kdei Temple Tour

Lintel at entrance of Banteay Kdei

Lord Ram and Goddess Sita with their army of followers on the lintel. This was at the entrance from east gate of Banteay Kdei.

Just after the tower, after a walk of 200m there is a raised passageway. It is adorned with Naga balustrades. The lintel has images of Lord Ram and Sita with his army of men, a scene from Hindu epic Ramayana. But inside there is a shrine with the image of Lord Buddha. A monk offers prayers on regular basis, the flowers and burning incense sticks proof of that.

Buddha image at shrine inside Banteay Kdei

Huge 5foot statue of Lord Buddha inside the first shrine at Banteay Kdei.

Hall of Dancers

After this shrine small paths diverge off on either side and go around what would have been once a courtyard. This central courtyard is the most beautiful part of the ruins of Banteay Kdei. Everything seemed scattered, broken and disorganized, but close observation yields lot of beautiful details. Several dancing girls smile at you bewitchingly.  Unfortunately many of them are covered with a pastel shade of green and black lifeless lichen. They all come alive during rains, grow rapidly and conquer some more area of ruins until the summer slows down them again. Those completely dry and dead has turned into black cover. This has rendered patches of green shade and black shade to otherwise dull lifeless stones. Mind your step here lest you topple over blocks of stones.

Banteay Kdei Temple Tour

The area between central sanctum and west gate of Banteay Kdei.

Hall of Dancers at Banteay Kdei

Image of a Dancing girl at Hall of Dancers at Banteay Kdei Temple

Here and there are blocks which show signs of slipping off its position. At one point the ceiling looked like stack of stone blocks, which can come crashing down with the slightest disturbance. Banteay Kdei temple is less crowded than Ta Prohm and photography without much intrusion is possible.

Banteay Kdei

Central courtyard of Banteay Kdei, scattered with blocks of stones.

Ceiling of tower at Banteay Kdei

The ceiling of one of the towers of Banteay Kdei. Looked more like a stack of stones.

History of Banteay Kdei Temple

King Jayavarman VII built this temple during the late 12th to early 13th century. It was a mega project of those times. Very small inscriptions have been found to support this. Dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism, the structure is similar to Bayon Temple in architectural style and similar in plan to Ta Prohm and Preah Khan, but less complex and smaller. It is a short Buddhist temple, its 13 towers crowned with lotus buds.

Interesting Facts of Banteay Kdei Temple

  • The forgotten temple of Bantaey Kdei was discovered by the French in 1914.
  • Banteay Kdei means Citadel of Chambers
  • It is also called Citadel of Monks’ cells
  • One can hear loud chirping sounds of cicada and the jungle around is teeming with colourful creepy crawlies.
  • The temple got fame in 1923 when 4 statues of Apsara were stolen by André Malraux, a culture minister. He was later arrested at Phnom Penh.

Travel Tips for Banteay Kdei

  • This is a small temple and hence can be easily fitted into 1 day itinerary of Angkor
  • A must visit temple in 3 days and 7 days ticket for Angkor temples.
  • You can schedule it any time during middle of the day. A good canopy of trees provides the required shade.
  • Photography enthusiasts can visit during early morning hours.
  • More photography opportunity at Hall of Dancers
  • Nature lovers can find colourful creepy resident crawlies inside the temple boundaries.
Creepy Crawlies at Banteay Kdei

Creepy Crawlies at Banteay Kdei

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40 Responses to “Banteay Kdei Temple Tour in Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • Yogi Saraswat
    5 months ago

    Wonderful narration of a Beautiful & Historical Site .

  • Amazing temple. Great pics and post.

  • Glad to know about this beautiful temple.

  • Lovely ! Thanks for bringing alive. These places are truly breath taking !

  • I love the photo at the entrance of the east gate! Also… do you know if the four statues that were stolen were ever returned? I’d love to visit one day.

  • These temples look so beautiful. I havent been to this region yet but I sure want to check this out. Beautifully written 🙂

  • Danielle Desir
    5 months ago

    I wonder what the plans are to better restore the temple especially if metal and wood are deteriorating quickly. It would be a shame to lose this important cultural landmark and religious temple.

  • This looks like a beautiful temple. Too bad it was not well preserved but it is awesome that you were able to see it. Very nice description of the temple and helpful travel tips.

  • Whenever I see these ancient old temples being taken over by nature I can’t help but imagine what it was like when it was in use. What were people dressed like, what where they eating, what was their concerns at the time and what where they celebrating. The temple is beautiful.

  • This was one of my favorite temples on the Angkor complex. I love hearing more of the history behind it! I had no idea what the meaning was! So interesting!

  • The temple looks beautiful but it is equally sad to know that they won’t be able to save the ruins for long. Your pictures are great. Angkor is already high on our list.

  • I must visit this place!

  • Happy to know that you had been to Cambodia, heard that biggest Hindu temple is in Cambodia. Felt sad reading about the condition of this beautiful temple.
    Love the photographs, interesting facts list and the tips for the visitors.

  • I always like such historical sites .Ancients temples are always with massive structures.Angkor Wat and surrounding temples are in my list of must visit places.These pictures are inviting me to plan my next trip to Cambodia.Though we visited Cambodia recently,it was a short trip to Phnom Penh.

  • I had posted a few on my blog about the Angkor Wat and other temples. However, I had only a fleeting reference to the Banteay Kdei temple. Nice to see such an elaborate post! I do remember the prayers that were being offered there! and the smell of incense!

  • I was so surprised when I’ve read that it dates back to the 12th and the 13th century! It’s such a pity that the temple is not in good condition. Would really be great if it could be further restored to be witnessed by future generations. This is such an amazing heritage!
    Love your photos by the way, and all those little details. 🙂

  • I have never made it to Cambodia, although my uncle has lived there for many years so I have seen pictures of temples. Cambodia is a country hurt badly by war, so not surprising that beautiful places like this have been hurt.

  • I am in love with your Cambodia posts 🙂 So awesome and detailed. The hindu references are so uncanny! My gosh. The ceiling looks like it will crumble anytime . Must be quite an experience to walk through history living in stones. hope to do this someday! 🙂 and I hope earnestly it is restored before its all gone!

  • Been reading how these ancient temples are crumbling away. I would love to visit Cambodia soon. Thanks for sharing this detailed post on this temple. Bookmarking for Cambodia. 🙂

  • This was one of my favorite temple in cambodia . I really enjoyed it. It’s amazing how they were able to preserve a lot of their temples

  • One of the places I always wanted to see! I am really curious if it looks so well in reality, cause on pictures it looks incredible! Do you have to take a tour or are you able to sightseeing by yourself?

  • Megan Donoghue
    4 months ago

    It’s quite amazing to see how nature has completely reclaimed some of these temples – sad to hear that much of Banteay Kdei Temple is in ruins. But what an incredible place. To be forgotten by time and then discovered again at the turn of the 19th century, and now still stand for those who want a glimpse into the past. Really cool. I hope that the temples are preserved going forward.

  • I have visited the temple. Your description and attention to detail had me right back there reliving the time I spent . Thanks for a great post.

  • Wonderful and beautiful photo all. It’s very nice pictures. Banteay Kdei Temple is a very pleasant place. Thanks for sharing this blog.

  • Megan Jerrard
    4 months ago

    There are so many incredible temples in this region – nice to hear that work has begun to restore; it would be so tragic to leave it in ruins. Amazing to think that Bantaey Kdei lay forgotten to be discovered at the beginning of the 19th century – can you imagine stumbling across a hidden gem like this! Thanks for the travel tips, nice to know it can befitted into 1 day itinerary of Angkor

  • Some great travel tips here and an interesting history. The way you described the cicada and jungle sounds almost had me there for a minute!

  • The Banteay Kdei Temple is beautiful! That’s crazy it was built around the 13th century but not discovered again until the early 1900s. I wonder if anyone lived there in between!

  • I remember visiting this temple on my 3-day visit of Angkor, one of the most picturesque temples indeed! I love all these beautiful stone carvings, it is too bad that many people don’t even notice them. I felt a bit ashamed about what my French ancestors did though!!

  • The hall of dancers sounds beautiful. I would love to take a time lapse moving of the lichen growing and browning throughout the season. It would be fascinating to watch the temple living and growing before your eyes.

  • I visited Cambodia for a month solo 18 years ago now. Your post has brought my visit to Ta Prohm rushing back and how amazing it was. I didn’t visit Bantaey Kdei but love to take my kids back one day. Sounds like it needs to be sooner rather than later – I had no idea the temples were deteriorating so quickly. That photo of the ceiling!! Wow – just a stack of stones!

  • Angkor Wat is one of our favorite temples in Asia. We’ve been twice and to this temple too. We love getting a tuk tuk driver for the day and exploring as many as we can.

  • OMG, I can’t believe a Culture Minister would try to steal 4 Apsara statues. Glad he was caught 🙂 Didn’t have a chance to visit this particular temple while in Siem Reap. Your pictures are gorgeous and they bring the history to life. Great article and another temple to add to ones travels to Siem Reap.

  • The details and intricacies of these temples amaze me. Today’s architecture doesn’t have the attention to detail

  • I haven’t been to Cambodia yet, but I have heard the country has beautiful temples. I hope this one will be able to be fully restored! Each temple has its own story to tell – a history to share – and a culture to help others embrace!

  • So sad to see a beautiful and historic structure like this deteriorating. I definitely hope they can get more than just metal and wooden supports to fix it. I always love temples like this, because I think they are like windows into the history and culture of the area. If I’m in the area, I will definitely be on of the people there early in the morning to get good pictures!

  • The details of this temple are simply wonderful!

  • This looks absolutely beautiful…. what a blessing you were able to have this amazing experience…. I would love to see this someday.

  • I have read and seen a lot of information about temples in Cambodia. I cannot wait to visit the country someday. Loved your pictures and the information you provided.

  • I love the dancing woman carvings on the walls of the Hall of Dancers. Angkor Watt is one of the top visited destinations of 2017 and I can see why. I would love to visit the temples here. Thanks for this detailed review of Banteay Kdei temple, it looks incredibly interesting!

  • We haven’t been to Angkor Watt and it is a place I would like to visit. I suspect it is huge to explore like Bagan in Myanmar, so I’m definitely going to have to research what exactly I’d like to see there and how many days I need when we finally do go.

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