Click here for Part 7
Before I continue, I would like to reiterate that all those temples we covered earlier on; South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Baphuon, Phimeanakas and Terrace of the Elephants are nested within Angkor Thom. We have not visited other temples outside Angkor Thom.
We resumed our adventures after lunch and the next temple we were supposed to go was Ta Prohm. Okay, it may sound another normal temple for you but here’s the catch. It is where Angelina Jolie’s Tomb Raider was made.
The journey from the town took about 15 minutes. The driver dropped us and John at the east entrance of Ta Prohm which required us to walk a short distance before the real temple could be seen. On our way, we saw a group of men playing some sort of instruments. Upon further look, we found out that these men were victims of landmines; with some could be seen without arms or legs. I felt helpless seeing them so I gave them all my riels I have in my wallet.
I had this eerie feeling as we walked deeper into the jungle. Also, I took every step with care for fear I might stepped on landmines. *shrugs* It wasn’t long when we saw Ta Prohm from far.
Now, it looks unimpressive from outside. A support structure to support the falling ruins and there are no majestic bas-reliefs and carvings like what we saw at Bayon. All we get to see was this giant tree sprouting outside the entrance.
Upon entering the temple.. I was like OH.MY.GAWD because it looks like this..
How on earth a tree can grow like that?
I think I understand why Tomb Raider was filmed at this temple. Period.
Ta Prohm is the modern name of a temple at Angkor, Cambodia, built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and originally called Rajavihara.
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm has been left in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors. [Source]
My travel buddies were probably stunned by the surroundings in Ta Prohm as they were slow in responding my call to get their photos taken. I needed to raise my voice a bit to get them posing for me. o_O
Took few more shots and when I turned back, I saw ang mohs been lining up and waiting with cameras for their turns.
We continued our walk accompanied by John and saw more weird trees growing all over Ta Prohm. I felt I was in AlienLandTM because these trees look like they’re going to eat me.
Ta Prohm did not undergo much restoration because the archaeologists would like to retain its picturesque and atmospheric look.
When the effort to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 20th century, the École française d’Extrême-Orient decided that Ta Prohm would be left largely as it had been found, as a “concession to the general taste for the picturesque.” According to Maurice Glaize, Ta Prohm was singled out because it was “one of the most imposing [temples] and the one which had best merged with the jungle, but not yet to the point of becoming a part of it”. Nevertheless, much work has been done to stabilize the ruins, to permit access, and to maintain “this condition of apparent neglect.” [Source]
Not surprising when we saw a lot of collapsed stones scattered around Ta Prohm. Like it just experienced a series of powerful earthquakes. Some bullet holes were seen planted on the walls as a result of Khmer Rouge regime where communists used these temples as their practice grounds.
I started to love this temple. It’s just so different from other temples. Along the way, we saw more mutated giant trees.
The trees growing out of the ruins are perhaps the most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm, and “have prompted more writers to descriptive excess than any other feature of Angkor.” Two species predominate: the larger is the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra), and the smaller is the strangler fig (Ficus gibbosa). [Source]
Trees aside, Ta Prohm also features some carvings too although not as many as Bayon.
Some of the carvings look faded due to erosion. Perhaps, the authorities should do something to prevent this before the carvings completely disappear from our sight.
As the walkway inside is uneven, a wooden pathway has been built to ensure visitors have an easy stroll while in Ta Prohm.
And if you noticed from the above photos, it looked like we were the only visitors to Ta Prohm. It’s because we were out of the “tourists time-frame”. I like it because I could take photos without unidentified subjects. :p
Sometimes, I do wonder how long it takes for these trees to grow like that. It’s just simply amazing!
Not every part in Ta Prohm is accessible as some are blocked by ruins. As we went to the inner part of the temple, we discovered more things… like this apsara dance carvings.
It’s almost everywhere on the wall, still in very good condition.
I think I mentioned about this apsara dance in my earlier posts. Don’t worry, I will explain further in my upcoming posts.
Out of boredom taking photos of weird trees, I decided to change subjects for temporary..
We uncovered more gigantic “building-hugging” trees as we made our way out. The way each tree grow is so unique and blends well with the temple structure. Like they made for each other.
That pretty summarizes our visit to Ta Prohm; big temple in the middle of the jungle, mostly ruins, big weirdo trees like ginseng, eerie atmosphere but great for photography. Certainly one of the must-visit temples in Angkor Archaeological Park!
Next.. scary climb begins at Ta Keo
Siem Reap Day 2: Ta Prohm (Recommended!!)