Angkor Archaeological Park is one of the most important UNESCO sites in Southeast Asia. It is primarily known for the largest religious temple in the world, Angkor Wat. Besides it, there are dozens of temples forgotten in time – this gave them a unique charm.
I had a one-day visit of Khmer temples and the one that impressed me most was Ta Phrom. Not because it is famous due to Tomb Rider movie, not for his sculptures, not for its size but for ist highly photogenic angles!
Data of Ta Phrom
- It was built in Bayon style in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries;
- It was built at the order of the Khmer King Jayavarman VII;
- Originally, it was called Rajavihara, which means “monastery of the King”;
- It functioned as a Buddhist monastery and university;
- After the Khmer empire’s fall (in the 15th century), it was abandoned about 530 years;
- Tempe’s dimensions are 42 x 36 m, with a height of 11 meters;
- It is in the UNESCO Patrimony from 1992;
- During the restoration works which started in 2000 at the Angkor complex, the specialists decided that Ta Prohm would be left like that, with its natural beauty;
- In 2013, it had to be reinforced with iron scaffolding to protect tourists;
- Along with Angkor Wat, it is the most visited temple in Cambodia.
The temple belongs to the trees
After the temple was abandoned, the trees did not want to grow on the ground like any other normal trees do. The seeds fixed hundreds of years ago into the moss of the stone blocks of the building. So, the trees invaded the temple. Hard to imagine, the landscape is more than impressive. Its roots entered deep among the walls of the temple even breaking some down. The defensive walls are invaded by aerial roots, which have found there a place for nourish.
The breathtaking trees are almost 60 meters high and those are actually on the roof of the temple. From there, the roots are leaking like a lava to the ground. And tighten the temple like an angry octopus. Sitting in front of them, with some big stones that fallen from the building at my feet, I could realize the immense power of nature more than ever.
These strange trees are called Tetrameles nudiflora. I asked the Cambodian guide I had about them and he told me that they were “Buddha’s trees”. But I noticed that in every country there is one “tree of Buddha” and they do not even look alike. Here I admired the Ceiba (trees of cotton).
Do not miss
Ta Prohm doesn’t have many representations in stone because they were destroyed after the death of King. But it is worth to stop and admire those that still exist – representing the guardians of the temple and monks who pray. Another sculpture, partially preserved, is showing the departure of Siddhartha, who would become Buddha, from his father’s palace.
Stone carvings are over 600 years old. Please note that are handmade with some exquisite craftsmanship!
The temple is slowly crumbling. I’ve noticed the damage both externally and internally – where one of the halls of the temple is blocked by stone blocks of what once was the ceiling.
The truth is that the temple can not be reconditioned because of trees’ roots which are between the stone blocks. From 2013, scaffolding and buttresses appeared. But some trees are old, large, heavy and began to bend. The problem will arise when the roots will rot and the temple will collapse altogether.
Ta Phrom in photos
this article was published on corinamatei.ro