This elaborately spread-out temple was result of the remodeling/ building frenzy of Khmer King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219/20 CE) under whose reign the imperial religious faith drifted from Hinduism to Buddhism. To propagate his new faith, Jayavarman VII zealously modified many existing/ unfinished sacred spaces into Buddhist monasteries. These edifices were hastily completed or never completed by making use of sandstone of inferior quality. As a result, the temple complex was transformed into a heap of unrecognizable ruins. Glaize feels, these set of edifices possess “the spirit of confusion, although less so than at Ta Prohm and Prah Khan, that is characteristic of the monuments built, transformed or completed by Jayavarman VII …”
The ground looks clean, uncluttered with well-distributed structures. It also has an elaborate hall for the dancers on east just before the main shrine. There are 4 cruciform gopurams each through the first and second enclosures arranged along cardinal directions, placed around the main sanctum. Artistically, Banteay Kdei represents an unharmonious blend mix of styles borrowed from Bayon and Angkor wat. At noted by Glaize, “At least two different styles are evident, relating to the periods of Angkor Wat and the Bayon, and the additions are clear, in many places masking the already existing sculptures.” He adds, “The ruin is quite advanced, as much due to the numerous defects inherent in the buildings of this period as to the low-grade, friable sandstone that has a tendency to fail. After the delight of Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei might seem less enchanting – perhaps because of its presentation.”
Practicalities | Banteay Kdei is on the eastern fringes of Angkor Thom. It is quite likely that you would pass through this temple many a times, but because of the other towering giants nearby, this is somewhat dwarfed and often skipped. If you have few spare hours, you can easily include this into your itinerary. The empty quarters of Banteay Kdei provide for an easy soulful stroll during any time of the day. You can combine your outing to Banteay Kdei with Ta Prohm, Srah Srang, and Kutishvara.