Perhaps most people know the very famous temple of Angkor Wat located near Siem Reap in Cambodia. What most people don’t know is that Angkor Wat is just one of many temple complexes in that area.
The first temple I visited in the region was Ta Prohm.
I actually enjoyed exploring this temple more than I did later exploring Ankor Wat, although the latter had more wow factor from afar, set-up like the Taj Mahal in how you appreciate the view of it from it’s approach.
I have already talked about the devastation of the Khmer rouge on recent Cambodian life. The reality of landmines comes to life around Siem Reap with panhandlers missing limbs and those who have figured out how to make an income despite their disabilities.
Click on the second image below to hear this band playing inside the entrance of this temple complex.
These temples were more towns than temple. The outer wall of this one was 1 km by 650 m.
Ta Prohm was one of the first temples in a massive program of construction and public works started in 1186 by Jayavarman VII.
When I say it was more of a town I mean this. According to Wikipedia this temple was home to more than 12,500 people. The surrounding villages that provided the support services and supplies for this walled city of sorts amounted to 64 times that. That’s quite a ratio, 1:64, or 800,000 villagers behind the scenes.
This particular temple complex is iconic for its trees, growing through and on and amongst the structures.
Click on the image below to see a video.
I feel like videos bring you closer to the site than do photos.
When standing far back it is not apparent the level of detail of construction.
Of course most of the details have been obscured by 800 years of wear. But see here some great examples.
As with all of these complexes, after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 17th century these places were basically lost for hundreds of years. When the temples of Angkor were finally given attention again in the 21st-century, it was decided that much of this one would be left remaining in the state as it had merged with the jungle. Of course work has been done to stabilize and permit access.
Ta Prohm was added to the UNESCO world heritage list in 1992. In this photo you can see the lighter colored pieces are newly created. So this structure would have been reassembled from a collapsed structure.
Despite learning that this complex was being left more as it had been found, I saw more reconstruction happening here then at any other temple complex today. (I visited four today, which was a lot for me to take in.). It has become one of the most visited temples.
The structures have been fortified as needed for safe explorations within.
Rubble of collapsed structures can be seen everywhere, and signs showing which way you should allow yourself to wander.
Click on the images below for videos of repair and piles of rubble yet to be put to their right order.
I was surprised by the degree to which we could explore.
Click on the video below to see more of this magical landscape . You may recognize it from a movie
The trees were incredible .. I read that the most prominent are the silk cotton tree, the strangler fig tree, and the gold apple tree.
The film that had scenes here was called “Tomb Raider” and starred Angelina Joliie.
At this time it was only about 9 o’clock in the morning, so I was not yet melting. It was already about 32°C at that time, but the sun was not yet burning hot.
Despite the heat, it is polite and respectful not to show your legs at the temple complexes. So here I wear a light pant sold at the local stores for that purpose.
I took this tour guides picture because he came from my favorite city in Japan. I lived for two years in the city of Matsuyama, the main city of Ehime Prefecture. Ehime Shinbun is the provincial newspaper.
Thank you for Joining my visit to Ta Prohm in Cambodia. I hope you will join with me visiting more of these temple complexes in upcoming posts.