Banteay Samre

Date of Construction: Mid 12th century C.E.
Religious Affiliation: Hinduism and later Buddhist
Patron or King: Suryavarman II
Artistic/Archeo. Style: Angkor Wat
Location: Off the GC about 5km east of East Mebon
Location of Entrance: North causeway from the road
Position: 13d26'31N 103d57'32E

Banteay Samrč is a temple at Angkor, Cambodia located east of the East Baray.

Built under Suryavarman II and Yasovarman II in the early 12th century, it is a Hindu temple in the Angkor Wat style.

Named after the Samré, an ancient people of Indochina, the temple uses the same materials as the Banteay Srei.

The temple underwent extensive restoration this century by archaeologists using the anastylosis method.

Banteay Samre was constructed around the same time as Angkor Wat.

The style of the towers and balustrades bear strong resemblance to the towers of Angkor Wat and even more so to Khmer temple of Phimai in Thailand.

Banteay Samre temple is about 400 meters east of East Baray, about 2 kilometers from Pradak village and south of the road from Pradak to Phnom Bok.

The temple was built in the middle of the 12th century by King Suryavarman II, dedicating to Vishnu Brahmanism.

The Proportions of Banteay Samre are Splendid.

A unique feature is an interior moat with laterite paving, which when filled with water must have given an ethereal atmosphere to the raised base with horizontal moldings, dedicated in some areas with figures framed by lotus buds.

The plan of the temple is roughly square and consists of a laterite rampart with our gopura.

The laterite, paved causeway is 200 meters which leads to the east gopura providing access though the outer rampart of the monument.

The causeway, on two levels of Angkor Wat, of which only vestiges remain.

With many scenes drawn from the epics on the pediments, lintels or the bases of pilasters, Banteay Samre is a Buddhist monument erected by King Suryavarman II between the mid-12th century (1150-1175).

The decoration of the temple is absolutely ravishing, particularly on the multi-curved pediments of the Gopura of both the outer and inner enclosures.

Shortly after the temple was erected, significant modifications were made to the level of the eastern entrance and to the interior enclosure.

From Angkor: Banteay Samre is one of the most complete complexes at Angkor due to restoration using the method of anastylosis.

No inscription has been found for this temple, but the style of most of the architecture is of the classic art of the middle period similar to Angkor Wat.

The monument most likely dates from the same period, or, perhaps, slightly later, although there are additions attributed to the Bayon style.

Suryavarman II

Suryavarman II (posthumous name Paramavishnuloka) was king of the Khmer Empire from 1113 A.D. to 1145-1150 A.D. and the builder of Angkor Wat, which he dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu.

His reign's monumental architecture, numerous military campaigns and restoration of strong government have led historians to rank Suryavarman as one of the empire's greatest kings.

The king appears to have grown up in a provincial estate in the area of present-day Lopburi in Thailand, at a time of weakening central controls in the empire.

An inscription lists his father as Ksitindraditya, his mother as Narendralashmi.

As a young prince, he maneuvered for power, contending he had a legitimate claim to the throne.
states an inscription, he approved the desire of the royal dignity of his family.

Bounding on the head of the elephant of the enemy king, he killed him, as Garuda on the edge of a mountain would kill a serpent.

Scholars have disagreed on whether this language refers to the death of the southern claimant or King Dharanindravarman.

Suryavarman was inaugurated in 1113 A.D. An aged Brahman sage named Divakarapandita oversaw the ceremonies, this being the third time the priest had officiated for an incoming king.

The priest embarked on a lengthy tour of temples in the empire, including the mountaintop Preah Vihear, which he provided with a golden statue of dancing Shiva.

During his decades in power, the king reunited the empire, reversing many of the benign policies of his predecessor, historians believe.

In the west and north, his soldiers expanded the borders to cover new parts of present-day Thailand, Laos and Peninsular Malaysia.

As is common in reconstructing Khmer history, there is plenty of room for debating these and other precise events.

Khmer inscriptions, a major source of information, may exaggerate the empire's accomplishments, while accounts from rival states may do the same with its shortcomings.

Inscriptions in the neighboring Indianized state Champa and accounts left by writers in Dai-Viet, a Vietnam precursor state, say that Suryavarman staged three major but unsuccessful attacks on Dai-Viet, sometimes with the support of Champa.

In 1128 A.D., he is said to have led 20,000 soldiers against Dai-Viet, but they were defeated and chased out.

In 1145, A.D., Suryavarman appears to have invaded Champa, defeated its king and sacked the capital Vijaya.

In subsequent fighting, Cham forces recaptured the capital and killed Harideva.

In addition to war, Suryavarman practiced diplomacy, resuming formal relations with China in 1116 A.D.
A Chinese account of the 13th Century says that the Khmer embassy had 14 members, who after reaching Chinese soil were given special court garments.

The embassy went home the following year.

Another embassy visited in 1120 A.D.; in 1128 A.D., the emperor conferred high dignities on the Khmer ruler, deeming him great vassal of the empire.

Problems concerning commerce between the two states were examined and regulated.

The king's reign saw great innovations in art and architecture.

He presided over construction of Angkor Wat, the largest temple ever built in the capital, and in many modern minds the ultimate masterpiece of Khmer architecture.

Other temples dating to his reign include Banteay Samre, Thommanon, Chau Say Tevoda and, east of the capital, the huge Beng Mealea complex.

Suryavarman married, but no record exists of his wives' names.

Suryavarman II was unusual among Khmer kings in making Vishnu rather than Shiva the focus of court religious life.

Scholars have long debated whether his association with Vishnu helps explain why Angkor Wat faces west, the cardinal direction with which Vishnu is associated, rather than the common orientation for Khmer temples of east.

For reasons unknown, Suryavarman II is the first Khmer king to be depicted in art.

A bas relief in the south gallery of Angkor Wat shows him seated on an elaborate wooden dais whose legs and railings are carved to resemble naga snakes.

His right hand holds what seems to be a small dead snake-its meaning is unclear.

His torso curves gracefully, his legs folded beneath him.

Kneeling attendants hold over His Majesty a profusion of fans, fly whisks and parasols that denoted rank.

Whiskered Brahman priests look on, some of them apparently preparing things for a ceremony.

An ark bearing the royal fire, symbol of power, is carried on shoulders.

Further on in the gallery is a display of Suryavarman's military might.

Commanders with armor and weapons stand atop fierce war elephants, with ranks of foot soldiers below, each holding a spear and shield.

One of the commanders is the king himself, looking over his right shoulder, his chest covered with armor, a sharp weapon in his right hand.

Inscriptional evidence suggests that Suryavarman II died at some point between 1145 A.D. and 1150 A.D., possibly during a military campaign against Champa.

Suryavarman was given the posthumous name Paramavishnuloka, He Who Has Entered the Heavenly World of Vishnu.

Angkor Wat appears to have been completed only after his death.

A modern sculpture that adapts his court image in the Angkor Wat bas reliefs today greets visitors arriving at the Siem Reap airport.

Parasols shelter this image of the king, as real ones did the real Suryavarman almost nine centuries ago.

Suryavarman II is a civilization leader in the 2007 PC computer game Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword.

In the game, Suryavarman is the leader of the Khmer Empire and has the leader traits Creative and Expansive (these traits were previously used for Cyrus of Persia in the original Civilization IV game).

Yasovarman II

Yasovarman II was the ruler of the Khmer empire from 1160 to 1166. He succeeded Suryavarman II. His rule was ended when he was assassination by one of his subordinates.

 Banteay Samre temple Siem Reap, Cambodia Map


This webpage was updated 27th January 2020