+Timothy Tye

World Travel GuidesUNESCO World Heritage Site Ta Prohm Temple, Angkor

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Ta Prohm is a major Angkor ruin that was made famous by the decision of the restorers of the École Française d'Extrême-Orient to leave as it is. Apart from the clearing of the compound and pathway for visitors to explore, and the inclusion of a wooden walkway, Ta Prohm is allowed to stand pretty much as how it was when discovered. This gives it the appearance of having leaped straight out of the pages of "Jungle Book".

Ta Prohm is where you can see trees spreading their gigantic roots over intricately carved stones. There are two main types of trees at Ta Prohm, the silk-cotton tree, Ceiba pentandra, with huge trunks, and the strangler fig Ficus gibbosa, which draps itself around other trees with its multiple grey roots.

Ta Prohm gained added fame for being featured in movies such as Tomb Raider, and for people who visit it, the feeling is that of having explored the quintessential jungle ruins.

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm was one of Jayavarman VII's biggest construction project. A Buddhist monatery, Ta Prohm was dedicated to Jayavarman VII's mother (just as Preah Khan was dedicated to his father). The original name for Ta Prohm is Rajavihara, meaning King's Monastery.

I have visited Ta Prohm a couple of times and it never failed to delight me on each visit. It is a complex ruin and one can easily get lost within its labyrinthe passages, blocked here and there by collapsed walls and ceilings.

A stone inscription was found at Ta Prohm provides us an idea of its size and purpose. On this stele, which was only recently moved to the Conservation d'Angkor for safekeeping, we learn that Ta Prohm was a major temple. The stele recorded that 79,364 people worked at Ta Prohm. These include 18 high priests, 2740 officials, 2202 assistants, and even 615 dancers.

West Gopura of Ta Prohm.

The property that the temple owns includes golden dishes weighing more than 500 kilograms, 35 diamonds, 40620 pearls, and other precious material. While these number may have been overblown to exaggerate the glory of Jayavarman VII, it is without doubt that Ta Prohm is impressive.

Ta Prohm consists of a series of long, low buildings, with passages and concentric galleries connecting them. An outer enclosure wall surrounds the whole complex. This mighty wall measures one kilometer in length and 0.7 kilometers in width. The road that connect Banteay Kdei with Ta Prohm still runs in between their respective outer enclosure walls.

Considering the road leads to the western entrance of Ta Prohm, that's where most visitors enter it. Nevertheless, the east entrance is now also cleared, and one can also access it from there - although, as I observed, few actually do. The western entrance by comparison, now has food and souvenir stalls awaiting customers.

Entering Ta Prohm from the west.

As Ta Prohm is built to face the east, it should by right be entered from that direction. If you have hired your own transport, it is best perhaps to be dropped at the east entrance. Tell your driver to pick you up at the west entrance.

Construction Details

Built in the mid 12th to the early 13th Century
by King Jayavarman VII (reigned 1181-1220)

How to reach Ta Prohm

As Ta Prohm is one of the most popular ruins in Angkor, most tuk tuk drivers will be able to take you to it. If you're joining a packaged tour, it is most likely to be in the itinerary as well. There are two ways to reach Ta Prohm, either from the direction from Banteay Kdei, or from the direction of Angkor Thom, passing through Ta Keo.

If you're coming from Banteay Kdei, follow my direction to Banteay Kdei until you reach the T-junction between Banteay Kdei and Srah Srang. Turn left. As your journey along this road, you will have the outer enclosure wall of Banteay Kdei on your left, and after a short distance, the outer enclosure wall of Ta Prohm on your right. If you are going to Ta Prohm's east entrance, turn right into a small path that leads to the east entrance on your left. If you prefer to enter through the bigger west entrance, continue along the road until it makes a right turn at the southwest corner of the enclosure wall. Follow the road until you arrive at the west entrance gopura on the right side of the road. There are some food stalls on the clearing on the left side of the road.

If you're coming from Angkor Thom, continue along the road after passing Ta Keo. After the road makes a bend to the right/south, you arrive at the west gopura of Ta Prohm exactly 1 km later.

Silk-cotton tree emerging from Ta Prohm.

Tree sitting on the ruins.

Gopuras of Ta Prohm.

Strangler fig.

jungle temple.

Ta Prohm east side.

Return to Angkor UNESCO World Heritage Site
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