Early this morning I visited Angkor Wat’s Banteay Samré and Ta Prohm temples. Something I had been looking forward to for some time!
Banteay Samré – Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, this temple is to the east of the other Angkor temples but has excellent preserved stone carvings exhibiting fine Khmer art. The trip to Banteay Samré is an excursion through villages and rice paddies. Flood waters covered the entire area not long ago but the land quickly dried out. The temple’s construction consists of pink sandstone. Built in the early 12th century under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II, Banteay Samré is a Hindu temple built in Angkor Wat style.
“The temple has detailed pink sandstone carvings. Scenes on the pediments of the upper levels are episodes from the Buddhist Vessantara Jataka (an avadana about Buddha’s past lives). Finding Buddhist sculptures in a Hindu temple clearly shows the high level of religious tolerance of the monument’s patron. Few temples present an iconography so complete and in such an excellent state of preservation.”
This century the temple underwent extensive restoration by archaeologists. It was originally constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat. The style of the towers resembles those of Angkor Wat.
Ta Prohm – Built in Bayon style in the late 12th and early 13th centuries Ta Prohm was originally called Rajavihara. It’s located near Angkor Thom. Khmer King Jayavarman VII founded Ta Prohm as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm was left in much the same condition as it was found. The photogenic combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings make it one of Angkor’s most popular temples. Ta Prohm was the site for filming the Lara Croft: Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie.
It was another great day exploring the incredible Angkor temples! I ended the day enjoying a lovely dinner with Bhavia, Linda, and John Henry – all from Eugene. Bhavia and Linda are on a craft buying trip for Friendship With Cambodia NGO and John is in Siem Reap teaching English to Cambodian children and exploring the area.