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Ta Promh Temple

UNESCO World Heritage site near Siem Reap

Ta Promh temple comes as a complete surprise because it's pretty much the only building in Angkor that has not been reclaimed from the jungle. As a result, it's like stepping back in time to when the first Western explorers 'discovered' Angkor. Huge silk cotton trees and strangler figs grow over and through the buildings, their roots like solidified lava and the effect is almost scary when we consider the power of Nature.

You can see just why this temple is one of the most popular of Angkor's many fabulous sights as it is eminently photogenic. Indeed, this was the only temple in 'Tomb Raider' that was faithfully replicated. I guess this means that you can't improve on this place for atmosphere.

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The temples of Angkor Wat and the walled city of Angkor Thom are perhaps the most famous and best known of all the ancient temple sites. To the east of Angkor Thom is the third most important, and one of the most photographed of all the ancient temples due to its dramatic scenery.

Ta Prohm is a quiet, and sprawling monastery, and unlike most other sites, it has only been partially cleared of overgrowth, and has been intentionally left more or less the way it was originally found. Some walls and doorways of the ancient structure were left overgrown and gripped by huge trees and other foliage. Flocks of parrots in the trees add to the atmosphere, and give the visitor the feeling of discovering a temple lost in the jungle. With this image in mind, it is not hard to imagine what the French naturalist Henri Mouhot must have felt when he ‘discovered’ the temple in 1860.

The monastery was one of King Jayavarman VII's first major temple projects, and was dedicated to his mother. It is estimated that at one time this vast 600-room monastery and the surrounding area had a population of over 70,000 people. The temple is 145 metres by 125 metres, It was home to high priests, monks, assistants, dancers and laborers, and was very wealthy with great stores of jewels and gold, and controlled an estimated 3,000 villages.

It contains a maze of courtyards and galleries, and is well worth spending some time to explore its many dark corridors. Ta Prohm was used in both the movie and game of 'Tomb Raider', and has some of the best temple-in-the-jungle photo opportunities.

Ta Prohm is similar in general design to the temples of Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei, which were also built by Jayavarman VII at a later date. Preah Khan was dedicated to Jayavarman VII’s father.

Ta Prohm is an excellent example of the monastic complex style temples, and is a must to be included in any visit to the temples.

Ta Promh Temple

Location: One km east of Angkor Thom
Construction Period: Mid 12th - Early 13th century C.E.
Religion: Buddhist
Built by: King Jayavarman VII
Building Style: Bayon
Best Time to Visit: Early morning when it is not as crowded.

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