Ta Prohm Temple | The Third Most Visited Temples in Siem Reap

Ta Prohm temple

Ta Prohm temple as one of the World Heritages is in the top three most visit temple in Siem Reap. King Jayavarman built it in the late 12th and early 13 centuries as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. As a dedication to the king’s family, Ta Prohm original name was Rajavihara. Told by the inscription, this ancient site was an impressive monument rich in resources such as gold, pearls, and silk. Ta Prohm Temple provided shelter to more than 125 000 includes 18 great priests 615 dancers.

There were also another 80 000 people in the village surrounding the temple who worked to provide supplies and services. This ancient site continued to expand and flourish until the end of the 15th century as the rule of Srindravarman. Due to the fall of the Khmer Empire, it was deserted, and almost completely swallowed by the jungle. Many know Ta Prohm Temple as the Tomb Raider temple ever since it provided the mystical film set for the 2001 Hollywood hit, Tomb Raider, starring Angelina Jolie.

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Ta Prohm Temple

Where is Ta Prohm temple?

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Ta Prohm Temple located in Siem Reap, Cambodia. Ta Prohm temple belongs to Angkor’s small circuit (Angkor Archeological Park has been divided into two, Grand and Small circuit). It is located about one kilometer east of Angkor Thom and on the southern edge of the East Baray The driving distance from Angkor Wat to here is about five to 10 minutes. There are two entrances, the west for entering and the east for leaving. By the west entrance, a short path cuts through the jungle will allow you to discover the mesmerizing temple.

The Stunning Images of The Tomb Raider Temple

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Prajnaparamita is the representation of the temple’s main image, matching the fact that Ta Prohm Temple is a dedication to King Jayavarman VII’s family. It means the Perfection of Wisdom” in Mahāyāna Buddhism, which in the Bodhisattva known as the “Great Mother”. On top of that, the statue of the Prajnaparamita is a resemblance to the King’s mother.

The northern and southern satellite temples in the third enclosure were a dedication to the king’s guru, Jayamangalartha, and his elder brother. Surprisingly, the family dedication links together the main images of Ta Prohm temple and Preah Khan Temple. Bodhisattva of compassion Lokesvara, which represents Phreak Khan Temple, was carved in the likeness of the king’s father.

Exploring the astonishing architecture of Ta Prohm temple

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Ta Prohm Temple was built in a simple layout called ” flat’ Khmer temple instead of a pyramid structure, consists only one-story buildings. The site consists of about 650 000 square meters surrounded by rectangular walls about 600 x 1000m. The same as other temples, Ta Prohm is placed to the east and setback to the west along widen east-west axis.

Gopuras entrance are placed at each of the cardinal points, however, only two are available for using now. The site contains many enclosures; still, only three inner enclosures of the temple proper are galleried. There is also a central sanctuary, which is, enclosed five smaller walls in the form of rectangular. In the central tower, sit a statue of Prajnaparamita, which is the main image of the Ta Prohm temple.

The most important buildings are the libraries, placed in the southeast corners of the first and third enclosure. There are many other special buildings such as the Hall of Dancer, which sat between the third and fourth eastern gopura. Also, there is House of Fire sit on the east side of the fourth eastern gopura. Not many complex carving and narrative relief exist in Ta Prohm temple.

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Still, during the walk on the pathway through the forest, you will find a stone terrace in the shape of a cross; remains of lions, serpent balustrades and mythical creatures lie scattered in the area. As King Jayavarman VII is a faithful devotion to Buddism, the place is abundant with the carvings and statues of Buddha. However, during the fall in the King same the rise of Hinduism, those carving and statue were destroyed brutally.

What makes Ta Prohm temple even more special?

Other than Tom Raider temple, many travelers also know Ta Prohm temple as Jungle temple. It is one of the most atmospheric attractions. Although restoration happened to stabilize the ruins, the forest, the temple are purposely left to become a part of each others. Walking through the site, you will find the tree’s roots penetrated the temple from the bottom to the roof. Some rocks were pushed away and many parts of the temple are in ruin.

- Ta Prohm
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However, it is the charm of the temple, as it makes the architecture of the temple stand out even more. If we look at another side it like the trees are the one to hold the temple strong together. Nature may seem like a destroyer but at the same time, it acts as a healer. The tourist who is a forest enthusiast will have a good time exploring this ancient site. It gives a lot of the lost city in the forest vibe. Importantly, Ta Prohm has only one-story building, so it is easier for tourists to roam around and explore. Tourist’s soul will be healed and comforted by all of the surreal sceneries and great energy from nature.

Best spots that you will regret missing during the visiting

Tomb Raider Tree

- Ta Prohm
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Ta Prohm Temple is famous for trees overgrown the temple. Still, this one tree is the most famous one amongst the tourists. Stands on the inside of the Easternmost Gopura of Central Enclosure, it is called Crocodile Tree. What makes this one tree special than the others? Remember we once mentioned that Tomb Raider setting was in this temple? Right, this tree became the most popular spot because of it. It is the tree, where Angelina Jolie who starred as Lara Croft picked a jasmine flower before falling through the earth into Pinewood Studios. The identification of the tree remains unknown. Many people are debating whether the tree is either Silk-cotton tree or Thitpok Tettrameles Nudifrola. Beside from featuring in the movie, the tree amazes people with how it one big tree able to stand tall over the temple showing off its beauty.

Mysterious Dinosaur Carving

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How about doing something a little adventurous like dinosaur hunting? Of course, we do not recommend you to go hunting for real dinosaur. It is the dinosaur carving in Ta Prohm that creates many debates amongst the visitors and researcher. There are many theories about the carving. Some say it is a Stegosaurus. Although there is no absolute proof or fossil record, they believe the ideas that dinosaurs and humans coexisted or that dinosaur did not go extinct.

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There is another explanation that it is more of a rhinoceros, chameleon, bear, or mythical creature. Unlike the first one, we have proof that human and those animals coexisted. Still, there is no clear answer to that. Perhaps it might be made out of imagination or could be evidence to the theories that dinosaur did live until much later. So why don’t you go and take a look? Here a little tip for the dinosaur hunting, it is in a corner of a courtyard. Look to the left of the central exit.

What the best time to visit Ta Prohm temple?

Ta Prohm Temple
Photo by Łukasz Maźnica on Unsplash

Famous for being the most atmospheric and photogenic temple, Ta Prohm tends to have more crowds. Especially during the afternoon, people often leave it as the last touring spot in the small circuit. So if you want to able to explore the ancient site more in a peaceful way, we recommend you leave a little early for it. That way you can avoid crowed on narrow walkways inside the temple. You will be able to spend more time appreciate the art of the jungle and temple. Roaming around the site can be a little confusing, as the falling rocks block many paths. Recommend you to use a local guide to show you around. You can learn better information about the temple and walk around without worrying about getting lost.

Ta Prohm Temple
Photo by James Wheeler on Unsplash

Ta Prohm Temple

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Ta Prohm Temple is surreal. It is amazing how the temple and nature intertwining can create such a beautiful sight. The formation between nature and the temple will make your jaws drop. Walking into the site will make you feel like walking into a movie set. You absolutely can imagine any action movies take place here.

Despite the ruins, the temple is still able to give a relaxing and nostalgia feelings. Not to mention how photogenic Ta Prohm temple is with its nature taking over sceneries. Come spend one or two hours exploring the site, you will see why Tomb Raider chose to shoot there as a setting place. Visiting Ta Prohm Temple will surely leave a deep impression on you.

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