Banteay Kdei Temple
Banteay Kdei Temple – The Temple of Eastern Buddha
Banteay Kdei is another major temple built by Jayavarman VIIwhich locates opposite of Srah Srang, east of Angkor Thom. This temple was built in the late 12th century dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism. According to the art style and its architectural, Banteay Kdei was regarded as an oldest temple in the reign of Jayavarman VII.
‘Bo Tathakuta’ was the name of Banteay Kdei temple in former time which was suggested by G.Coedes by depending on its carving and the stone inscription at Preah Khan Temple and Phimeanakas. ‘Bo Tathakuta’ mean the Eastern Buddha in which Bo means East, and Tathakuta was a name of Buddha for calling himself.
According to stone inscription dated in 1052 said in the reign of Jayavarman II (802-834), the king had arrived the place of Banteay Kdei and asked his official, Shivakaivalaya, and his family to live here and created a village called ‘Kote’. Then ‘Kote’ was changed to ‘Kdei’ in later time. So Banteay Kdei was probably built in the ancient village of Jayavarman II. Moreover, it also could be on the site of a 10th century Rajendravarman temple which was probably the work of Kavindrarimathana, the Khmer architect who was completely built East Mebon and Pre Rup.
The discovery in 2001 in Banteay Kdei complex, there were 274 Buddha statues have been found, among these 272 are in sandstone and 2 are in bronze.
After the reign of Jayavarman VII who was a Buddhist ruler, Cambodia turned to be Hinduism again and most parts of the Buddha carvings were damaged, Buddha statues were destroyed as we could see in the present day at Banteay Kdei, Preah Khan, Ta Prohm, and many other temples which dedicated to Buddhism, except Preah Palilay and Preah Pitu.
Banteay Kdei also got another name as ‘The Spirit of Confusion’ after Maurice Glaize visited this temple.
Layout of Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei has three enclosures of which were bounded by the town enclosure measures 700 m by 500 m. The town walls made of laterite and connected to the four entrance gopuras with face towers.
The same to Ta Som temple, within the town enclosure, there is a moat which contains the third enclosure. It’s also surrounded by lateriate walls, measures 320 m by 300 m.
The second and inner enclosures are designed into gallery walls. Just as Preah Khan Temple, before the second enclosure, a so-call Hall of Dancers, an open-roofed building with four courtyards.
The second enclosure has four doorways at cardinal points. However the main gopura is on the east, on the west is a secondary gopura, on the south and north are simple doorways. The complex of second enclosure is 58 m long 50 m wide.
The inner enclosure is in the same style to Ta Som Temple which has towers at each corner and a gopura at each cardinal point. The inner enclosure is 36 m by 31 m and was divided into four courtyards by the axial galleries that joint the central sanctuary. Two libraries at their usual positions at the east.
Visiting Banteay Kdei Temple
Opposite the landing stage of Srah Srang is the east gopura of the city wall of Banteay Kdei. So we start the visit to this temple through its face tower east gopura.
Walking westward for about 200 m in which we pass two laterites sanctuary. Just before arriving the third gopura, a terrace, in cross-shaped decorated with naga balustrades and guarded by lions at all three stairways, is the causeway over the moat. Gopura III east is in cross shape and designed with windows which Devatas are carved in the niches. On the east fronton has Rama and Sita in their palace. Inside, there is a seated Buddha statue in a good condition and fine carved of the 12th century architecture. On the upper wall near the roof are defaced Buddha images. At each of corner has garuda support the roof. On the columns carved Buddha in meditation, but all the carvings have been defaced by Jayavarman VIII.
Hall of Dancers
From gopura III, there is a naga balustrades walkway connects to the Hall of Dancers. On the right side of the walkway, there is a building consist of many square sandstone columns, which its function is unknown. Hall of Dancers is on a terrace bounded by sandstone walls of about 4 m high. A few steps to access the hall through its three doorways from the east and also on the west. The main doorways are guarded by Dvarapalas. There are 72 pillars arranged in north-south lines which divided the hall into four courtyards with broad walkways towards cardinal points. Each pillar carved dancing Apsaras on all four sides.
Through the cruciform gopura II which has main doorways in the center and two small doorways at each end of the walls, inside is a small courtyard on both sides. The enclosure walls are in the form of two-column galleries which visitors can walk inside. In the interior walls are frieze of Buddha and Devatas on the niches.
Gopura I and Inner Enclosure
The first gopura is closely next to the second gopura. Right after the first gopura is a square building at the center, two libraries at the northeast and southeast of the compound. At the northwest and southwest corners, each has a single pillar with pedestal. It’s suggested to be the holders of small shrines for offerings. Through a square building at the east, lead to the central sanctuary which is also square in plan and top with a tower. The central sanctuary is connected to the west, north, and south gopura I by walkways with roof and walled up with windows and also doorways.
Gopura II West
Continue westward, we are out to the gopura II west, from here the towers of inner enclosure make a nice view of Banteay Kdei from either corner. The arrangement from here is similar to those of the east: a naga balustrades causeway leads to the west gopura III, a cruciform terrace over the moat, and the west outer gopura is about 200 m further at the west.