Ta Prohm

“It’s a cruel and random world, but the chaos is all so beautiful”. -Hiromu Arakawa

The entrance of Ta Prohm is not as impressive as the face tower in South Gate—not as tall and not as embellished—but what lies behind the unassuming walls are beyond beautiful. A group of musicians welcomes the guests as soon as we set foot on the jungle. There is a beaten path in the center of the jungle that most people follow, but there are other smaller paths that the more adventurous can take.

Entrance of Ta Prohm
Local musicians and their native instruments

Ta Prohm is located southwest of Angkor Thom and it is around five minutes by car from Terrace of Elephants. Ta Prohm was built during the reign of King Jayavarman VII as part of his expansion program. It was meant to be a temple to honor his family, and as such the temple showcases the images of his parents. Aside from these, it also includes images of apsara and vedas.

The beautiful remains of the past
A smiling veda amidst the powerful roots

It is has a flatter surface compared to Bayon and Baphoun because it lacks their multi-level architecture. What the structures lack in height and grandeur in Ta Prohm, the superfluous presence of trees more than makes up for it. Some of the trees found in the jungle are silk-cotton tree and strangler fig. For the tree enthusiasts, there are markers that identify the common and scientific names of particular trees.

The first structure that greets the guests is a low one, unlike the three-tiered Bayon and Baphoun.
Some of the towering trees found in Ta Prohm
Scientific names remind me of high school biology, something to tickle the bones of thenerd in us.

There are roots that cling to the walls and roofs of the surviving structures, roots that encapsulate ruins or creep their way in random directions. These trees are ginormous and their roots have choked the ruins into submission, yet the whole place does not seem to be falling apart. The roots and the ruins seem to be hugging each other for comfort and security.

Roots took root and are rooted to the ground.

Near the center of the temple (where people start to queue to take photos of the more famous roots) is special tree whose roots look like a giant snake that grows out of ruins.

A snake, two Eve’s and no apple.

Every inch of the place I lay my eyes on shows how nature has wreaked havoc in the work of man, yet the struggle between nature and man-made structure has elevated the ruins of Ta Prohm to an unworldly level—something poetic yet no words can describe it. It is not surprising Ta Prohm was deemed the perfect backdrop for some of the pivotal scenes of Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

The roots made famous by Lara Croft

4 thoughts on “Ta Prohm

  1. Hola! Did you get a day tour package in your hotel or other travel agency when you go to Angkor Wat? O you just proceed in the Angkor Wat?

    1. We got a one-day tour from an agency, with entrance tickets, car, driver and tour guide. It also included bottled water, lunch, dinner, and cultural show. The area is too big and it was hard to find transportation within the compound (based on the number of tourists we saw looking for a ride). My friend and I went there in April, it was too hot to just walk around aimlessly so we decided to get a private tour. It was a little more expensive than a DIY or group tour, but we thought we got our money’s worth. We are cheap, but not cheapskates as to compromise our well-being and enjoyment of the tour. 🙂

      1. Is it Ok if I can get the name of that agency? Or do they have a website? I think it’s worth a try… We will be going there on a rainy season on Aug… I might sing, “I’m Singing in the Rain” there with matching splash of water.. hahaha 😉 Were you able to view the sunrise in Angkor Wat? Is there a chance that you were able to talk to a monk?

        1. I forgot the name of the agency. We did not view the sunrise in Angkor Wat because we arrived in Siem Reap late at night/midnight the day before, and the bus + van rides from Ho Chi Minh took a toll on our bodies. We were able to see the sun rose over Borobudur, though. I do not know if it counts. Haha.

          We did not talk to monks. I cannot recall seeing them there except for one guy in Angkor Wat.

          Good luck on your trip. I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

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