Ta Prohm remains in the shadows of the surrounding jungle, it’s towers and walls embraced by trees, while their vast root system dislodges the stone flooring, slowly causing the structures to crumble. While the tree encroached structures may be the most distinctive feature, there are smaller things like lichen and moss covering the walls and roofs that enable the visitors to experience what the first explorers did.
Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple constructed in 1186 by Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother. Inscriptions found on the temple by archaeologists, show that the building was used as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and a university. Approximately 12 500 lived within the temple complex, including 2700 officials, 18 high priests and 615 dancers and a further 80 000 people lived in surrounding villages that provided supplies and services.
In the 15th century after the fall of the Khmer Empire, Ta Prohm was abandoned for centuries. It was decided during the restoration works of Angkor in the 21st century, that Ta Prohm would be essentially remain as it had been found, merged with the jungle and picture perfect. Ta Prohm has had extensive work to stabilize the structures within the complex stopping further damage and creating a safe environment for visitors.
We visited Ta Prohm after lunch, the hottest part of the day and it was hot. By the time we reached the site we were all red faced and sweaty. There is so much to see that it is hard to know where to start. Many of the towers, courtyards and corridors are impassable either due to buckled walkways or dislodged stone blocks from the tree roots, but you get the idea of what discovers first encountered.
Ta Prohm was formerly named Rajavihara, meaning the monastery of the King and after the release of the movie Lara Croft Tomb Raider in 2001, the temple has also become known as the ‘Tomb Raider Temple.’ The scene in the movie where Laura Croft picks a Jasmine flower below a tree, prior to falling through the stone floor, has become a popular spot for tourist. The location is so popular, that they have roped off the area and designated it a photo taking spot. While it is a very cool spot for a photo, there are similar ones nearby, that are less crowded and without having to join a queue.
The tree made famous by the movie Tomb Raider
Similar style photo opportunities as the Tomb Raider one, but without the crowds.
Towards the end of our visit the kids were hot and sweaty and quite happy to sit and chat on the crumbling formations, than look around any further.