Date Traveled, August 2012
The Ta Prohm temple was almost completely overrun by the forest. It may be easily accessible today but the sight of giant trees growing atop stone roofs is still sufficient to give you some impressions of having discovered a wild and long lost place.
Ta Prohm Temple entrance
Look at the size of the roots and all above the soil
Ta Prohm or the "Ancestor of Brahma" and its neighboring temple Preah Kahn or the "Sword of Victory" were both built by King Jayavarman VII to honor his mother and father respectively. They are similar in construction with both temples featuring mostly single storied buildings with long corridors rather than having the multiple levels and gopuras or towers of other temples like Pre Rup or the Angkor Wat . But the much more famous Ta Prohm has been uniquely transformed by the forest giving it a distinct look and atmosphere that has made it one of the most visited sites in the Angkor region.
As you enter the Ta Prohm, you cannot avoid staring up at the gigantic trees growing atop the stone building. As you enter the inner courtyards and corridors of the temple you can get up close with the roots reaching down the walls to the earth below. A sight to impress even the most cynical. The temple is not all about the trees though and there are carvings and reliefs around that have survived the ages in excellent condition. These include the ubiquitous Apsaras and also interesting images of a Brahmin scholars easily identifiable with their hair arranged in the top like a bun. Admittedly, it is easy to miss these details walking through Ta Promh as the trees always grab your attention.
Trees growing on stone...seemingly
More trees, trees have taken over the temple
Easy to miss the traditional carvings with the trees grabbing your attention
Note that there is still a lot or restoration work in progress at the Ta Promh but there are well constructed elevated walkways to allow you to get around and enjoy the sights.
Lots of ongoing restoration work
I enjoyed the walk through the Preah Khan afterwards as well and strongly recommend you not skip that having gone all the way to Ta Promh. The temple tends to be far less crowded compared to the Ta Promh and there are plenty of spots to explore the temple in solitude. A memorable thing that I recall about the Preah Khan was the presence of a few of lion statues that hadn't been defaced! I have mentioned in my other posts in Cambodia that how unfortunate it was that most of the lion guardians had been defaced in other temples around the Angkor sites. It was a pleasant sight indeed to find some of the lion statues that had survived whole. Besides that the Preah Khan is also undergoing a lot of restoration work. Apparently it was in very poor repair earlier but has been restored to a decent state by now.
The entrance to the Preah Khan temple
Preah Khan's lion guardians
A two storey structure in the Preah Khan temple
Lion and Naga
As I was leaving the Preah Khan, the exit was pretty flooded in the rains forming a pretty pool around the temple making it seem like it was at the edge of a river...yet again I was happy to have had the opportunity to see how the rainy months transform the place so very uniquely and happy to remind myself how it is nice to beat out the crowds of the peak seasons.
Exiting Preah Khan
Preah Khan by the jungle
But still...have to come again in a dry season for those magnificent blue skies and sunsets and sunrises which the clouds did not allow.