After a magical visit to Banteay Srei, it’s difficult to write about Banteay Samre Temple. Not because it is any lesser, but because the earlier experience was so magical. We finally tore ourselves away from Banteay Srei as more people were showing up and the heat was steadily increasing. The tuk-tuk ride was welcome relief as we got to enjoy some more of the gorgeous countryside and some welcome early morning breeze. As we traversed the countryside, schoolyards were filling with playing children, while others walked or rode bikes along the road, all in their immaculate uniforms.
Banteay Samre is also found in the Angkor Archaeological Park and stands more like a citadel anchored in the surrounding forest. It is sturdy and compact, slightly elevated, and yet of human proportions. The whole complex is neither at ground level like Banteay Srei, nor a temple mountain like Bayon, but somewhere in between. The ground is exposed in the inner courtyard where small temples are perched on steeply rising dais’. Exquisite carvings are hidden and scattered here and there through the complex, with ancient Khmer scripts adorning the frames around doorways.
During our visit, we had a welcome sprinkle as the edge of a thunderstorm graced us. We could hear the low rumble of thunder to our south. In my imagination, I was transported back a thousand years when this temple was inhabited and the same grumble of thunder could be heard rumbling and groaning across the flat, verdant land. I can imagine the priestly class or royalty inhabiting this hollow, earthen interior while the hordes toiled in the surrounding plains, eking out their survival year after year.
Our son, who often carries a sketch book with him on our excursions, decided that this was a temple worth capturing. He is working on a cartoon strip and using several elements from these ruins in his drawings. He says he finds them a a good inspiration – something I can definitely agree with him about.