View across the moat to the inner sanctuary of Banteay Kdei
Banteay Kdei was yet another temple built by the great King Jayavarman VII. It is similar in design to Ta Prohm although much smaller, and like Ta Prohm, Banteay Kdei is largely un-restored. Much of it is in a bad state of repair, since it was constructed from a poor quality of sandstone.
The temple was apparently built over the remains of an older temple, and was considerably altered over time. Like many temples built by Jayavarman VII which were originally Buddhist, the Buddha images were obliterated or altered by later, Hindu, kings.
Visitors to Banteay Kdei usually enter via the eastern gate, which faces the Srah Srang, "the royal bathing lake". Through the Bayon style gate, a long dusty path leads to a large stone terrace guarded by the usual stone lions and flanked by a still largely intact Naga serpent balustrade.
Image ©Google Earth
Behind the terrace is another large gateway allowing entry to the second enclosure. However, I suggest that you veer to the left and walk along the southern edge of the second enclosure. This gives you a good view of the outside decoration of the so-called "Hall of the Dancing Girls" as well as the main sanctuary. A moat surrounds the main sanctuary, although it only has water in the rainy season. After the rains have left, cows can be found grazing the new grass that grows in the dry moat, harking back to the days in the 1960s when the temple was occupied by a herd of aggressive wild deer.
On reaching the western end of the temple, you can cross the causeway and enter the cloister which encloses the sanctuary. The central sanctuary and the galleries that surround it are a jumble of collapsed roofs and blocked passages. Pick your way through it carefully, and respect the signs warning of dangerous areas.
Make your way to the main eastern gateway, which now houses a contemporary Buddhist altar. A short way beyond the gate is the Hall of the Dancing Girls, a large columned space, the exact purpose of which isn't known. The modern name comes from the finely etched images of dancing girls that decorate every column.
Exit Banteay Kdei by the same eastern gate you entered, or, if you're on foot, you can exit through the west gate, which puts you just a short distance from the entrance to Ta Prohm.