Banteay Kdei

An under rated gem

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What we say: 4 stars

Far fewer visitors make it to the impressive Banteay Kdei than to nearby Ta Phrom, so take advantage of the thin crowds by spending more time here to really take in the feel of the place.

Lying to the west of Srah Srang and to the southeast of Ta Phrom, Banteay Kdei is a fusion of Angkor and Bayon styles. In its semi-ruined state, set on spacious, forested grounds, this temple remains one of the most underrated of Angkor's temples.

Although the site was extensively cleared between 1920 and 1922, stands of tall trees remain, some still attached to portions of the building. A large site — the outer wall measures 500 m by 700 m — Banteay Kdei is believed to have been constructed in the late 12th to early 13th century, during the reign of Jayavarman VII, atop a pre-existing site that dated back to the 10th century.

Banteay Kdei was a Buddhist monument and until the commencement of clearing in the early 1920s, a pagoda remained active at the site. During the reign of Jayavarman VIII, the site was expanded, and many of the Buddhist statues were vandalised or destroyed.

As with the other tree-sheltered sites, an early morning or late afternoon visit reaps smaller dividends due to the shade, so this is a good one to visit mid-morning or mid-afternoon. An ideal way to visit is to begin at Srah Srang, walk through Banteay Kdei from east to west, then turn north and follow the wall up to Ta Phrom, entering at the eastern gate, walking through there and having your transport pick you up at the western gate of Ta Phrom.

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