Banteay Samre - Hindu Temple Constructed in Angkor Wat style

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Timings : 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM

Time Required : 2 to 3 hours

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Bantea Samre, Siem Reap Overview

Banteay Samre is an Angkorian temple located close to the East Baray off the city of Siem Reap in Cambodia. This Hindu temple is known for its elegantly carved temple towers, bas-reliefs, the interior moat comprising of beautiful statues and the views of the structure in the sunset. It is definitely worth visiting Banteay Samre if you have time for its magnificent location amidst green rice and paddy fields within the local village while traveling in Siem Reap.

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Best time to visit

The best time to explore Banteay Samre is during the early morning or late afternoon when the weather is relatively pleasant. For great sunset views, it is recommended to be there in the evening.

Ticket details

The entrance fee for admission to Banteay Samre temple is included with the temple pass for central Angkor.  Foreigners are required to buy an admission pass, called the Angkor pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4 kilometres away from Siem Reap town. It is open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day. The entrance ticket can be purchased either by cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Baht or Euro) or by credit card. Tickets issued after 5:00 PM are only valid from the next day.

There are three types of admission asses available, depending on the number of entries:

1-Day: USD 37 for a day pass

3-Days: USD 62 valid for ten days

7-Days: USD 72 valid for one month

What to wear

As with the other temples in Siem Reap, it is expected that tourists dress appropriately. Women need to cover their shoulder at all times and wear knee-length attire. Sleeveless shirts and shorts aren't also allowed for both men and women. The rules are strictly followed, and you might be denied entry by the guards if you fail to obey them.

Banteay Samre History & Significance

Banteay Samre was built in the 12th century during the reign of Kings Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II. However, historians estimate that it was probably made by a high-ranking official, which was not uncommon in the Khmer kingdom. It was dedicated to the Hindu God Vishnu. Banteay Samre in the local Khmer language translates to the Citadel of the Samres, named after Samres, a local ethnic group of people who were based at the foot of the mountain Phnom Kulen. This Indochinese tribe was related to the Khmers.

The Legend of Banteay Samre

There is a popular legend around this temple among the locals, which is about the tale of a Cucumber farmer. This farmer grew juicy cucumbers, which were quite popular. The local King heard of it and loved the taste. He was so impressed that he ordered and permitted the farmer to kill anyone that tried to trespass the farmer's fields. One night, the King got the cravings to have these cucumbers, and he entered the field. The farmer killed the King, mistaking him for a thief. The King didn't have any sons, so the council decided that a royal elephant would choose the next King. The elephant arrived at the farmer's house and kneeled before him, which made him the future King. But because he didn't belong to the high class, the ministers were unhappy to have him as their King. Dejected and humiliated by this, the farmer king moved out of his palace and spent his life taking refuge in the faraway Banteay Srei temple.

Architecture

No inscriptions indicating the construction and history are found here. But the temple bears similarities in the design and architecture with the neighbouring Banteay Srei and the iconic Angkor Wat temple, both of which are flat structures comprising of intricately carved lintels, bas-reliefs, causeways and moats along with having large temple towers. It is also believed that more additions were built to Banteay Samre in the 15th century modelled on Bayon temple style based on the discovery that some sophisticated technologies were adopted to create the layouts.

Also, the style of Banteay Samre resembles other temples built by Suryavarman II, who also constructed Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda, along with Angkor Wat. Similarities include the location of the libraries and galleries around the central sanctuary, unique shape of the main towers with a chamber and the connection of this tower with the temple area via a small corridor.  

A majority of the inscriptions found in Banteay Samre comprise of Hinduism, and a few structures also consist of Buddhist relics indicating their later additions by kings practising Buddhism. Among the prominent, elaborately carved stone sculptures include the series of bas-relief galleries depicting the scenes from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Also, all the towers or the Gopuras contain carvings of Hindu mythological figures including various representations of Lord Vishnu.

One of the other highlights of the temple is the interior moat around the walls, constructed with laterite. It consists of many statues, most of which have been luckily preserved, and water also fills the canal. It makes for a splendid backdrop, especially in the evening during sunset, which is the most popular time to visit Banteay Samre. Located away from the other famous tourist temples in this area, it comparatively receives fewer visitors. But tourists still flock in sizeable numbers to view Banteay Samre forming in a silhouette against a sky painted with hues of orange, pink and red as the sunsets.

How To Reach Bantea Samre

Banteay Samre Temple located off the Grand Circuit, about 13 km from Siem Reap downtown. It takes about 45 minutes to reach the temple from the city centre. The best way to enter is to hire a Tuk-Tuk for 5 USD one way that can be shared or rent a motorbike at about 9 to 10 USD per day. You can combine a visit to Banteay Srey and cover Banteay Samre on the way back as the temples are located in that order. Passing through the villages give you beautiful views of the country life for over 3km when you approach these temples.

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