Kutishvara, also spelt Khutishvara or Kutisvara or Kutishwara etc., is a minor Angkor monument just north of Banteay Kdei and east of Ta Prohm, it is about 250 metres north to the Small Circuit road. The Kutishvara temple towers are situated in a very small grove surrounded by farmland. The Sanskrit word Kutishvara may be the original name of the sanctuary, because a site of Kuti is mentioned in the famous Sdok Kok Thom inscription from the eleventh century.
Parts of this small temple may have been built already by the legendary empire founder Jayavarman II around 800. But more probably the central tower is a monument in the Preah Ko style of Roluos-king Indravarman I in the second half of the ninth century. However, Kutishvara is the oldest monument inside the Archaeological Park (ticket area) of Angkor. Close to Angkor, only Ak Yum at the West Baray, 10 kilometres outside the Archaeological Park, was built earlier than Kutishvara, as it is ascribed to Jayavarman II (944-68). Inside Angkor, the sparce ruins of Kapilapura possibly originate from the same period and are part of a disappeared settlement which was even earlier than Kutishvara.
Kutishvara only consists of poor (and still partly buried) remnants of three Prasat towers. Earlier on, they were probably surrounded by a moat. The three towers are arranged from north to south on a single earth bank, forming a so-called longitudinal temple.
The basis of the older central Prasat is of brick, those of the other two are laterite. The central tower is better preserved, the two adjacent brick towers are ruined. The original temple was dedicated to Shiva, symbolized by a Linga on a pedestal. But most probably the extensions of the mid tenth century served to worship the Hindu trinity, viz. Shiva with Brahma and Vishnu. The reason for this assumption is: A stone re-used for the construction of the nearby Buddhist Bantay Kdei temple mentions a dedication to Shiva and the erection of statues of Vishnu and Brahma by a priest called Shivacharya, who was engaged by Rajendravarman II. A statue of Brahma on a round lotus pedestal was found in the southern shrine of Kutishvara.
The central tower from the ninth century has octagonal stone colonettes and an eroded stone lintel in situ. Two later Pre Rup style lintels, lying on the ground nearby, are much better preserved, they belonged to the two the adjacent towers from the tenth century. The northern lintel shows an early version of the frequently illustrated "churning of the milk ocean". The lintel in front of the south tower depicts the sitting four-headed Brahma surrounded by worshippers. Relief images of Brahma usually only show three heads, as in this case, not the head at the back. Originally Brahma had five heads, but he lost the upper one, when he was beheaded by the angered Shiva.
The morning is better for a visit of Kutishvara. Nobody will ask you for a ticket here. But you should not visit this area deep inside the archaelogical zone without one, and you will need the Angkor ticket at the famous temples nearby, Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm.