Another of the big three locations in Angkor, along with Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom / Bayon. Located around 1km east of Angkor Thom they are easily combined as part of the one-day short circuit.
Unlike many temples in the area Ta Prohm has received little restoration meaning that its unique landscape of trees growing underneath and through temples survives and gives the temples nickname of “the jungle temple”.
Ta Prohm was thrust into worldwide fame when Lara Croft: Tomb Raider hit cinemas in 2001.
Built by King Jayavarman VII in the late 12th and early 13th centuries as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university.
Originally known as Rajavihara (monastery of the king) Ta Prohm formed part of the massive building programme of Jayavarman VII and was constructed in honour of his family.
The main image represents Prajnaparamita, personofication of wisdom, and is thought to have been modelled on the kings mother.
The site continued to be developed and expanded up until the end of the 15th century and the rule of Srindravarman.
At its peak the site was home to around 12,500 people with a further 80,000 people in surrounding villages. The temple is believed to have amassed extensive gold, pearls and silk.
The temple was abandoned after the fall of the Khmer empire in the 15th century.
Unlike Bayon and Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm is a “flat” Khmer temple. The outer wall of 1,000 metres by 650 metres is the first of five rectangular walls surrounding a central sanctuary.
Towers were added at the entrances in a similar style to those found at Bayon, although they have mostly collapsed. Moats were also present around the fourth enclosure at one point.
As a visitor it is hard to visualise the original layout due to later additions confusing the layout which is further complicated by the collapse of many parts of the buildings (only 2 of 4 original entrances are still in use) as well as the trees and vegetation that have taken over the area.
The famous Tomb Raider tree is located within the central sanctuary and is truly impressive and a major photo opportunity for most visitors.
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