The Ta Prohm has continued to attract tourists and is widely recognised for its large trees and enormous roots found growing out of its walls. It remains one of the most popular and frequently visited temples in the Angkor region even today. Most visitors have drawn familiarity to the ‘Ta Prohm,’ since its feature in the movie, ‘The tomb raider,’ depicting several shots of the architectural structure.
The uniqueness of the temple’s appealing jungle setting, in its original state, has, in turn, resulted in it being the most sought after the temple in Angkor today. But, the sad reality of the temple has been the sudden change the temple has witnessed over the last couple of years. The Ta Prohm needed to be protected from its enormous growing roots and the removal of falling trees, causing damage to the temple’s structure, thus causing wear and tear of the structure of significant value.
History has denoted that the Ta Prohm was built during the 12th century by the famous king, ‘Jayavarman VII.’ It is believed that as king, Jayavarman dedicated the ‘Ta Prohm,’ as a Buddhist Temple, while all other temples in the Angkor region have been devoted to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. This was done by King Jeyavarman as a gesture to the King’s mother, who was a staunch Buddhist herself.
The Stele of the Ta Prohm
During the course of the temple tours, the tourists are briefed as to how the Ta Prohm is greatly associated with the stone stele. Written in the ancient Sanskrit language and dated back to 1886, the majority of information about the ‘Ta Prohm,’ is found written within the temple. The stele is in great favour of and continues to praise King Lokeshvara – a Bodhisattva in Buddhism, King Jayavarman VII and Prajnaparamita – known to be the perfection of wisdom. It also goes on to describe the, ‘Three Jewels of Buddhism,’ namely; Dharma (Buddhist Teachings), Sangha (Buddhist Community) and Buddha himself.
Descriptions about the products used in the performance of religious ceremonies are found mentioned here, followed by a detailed overview of the dancers, villages and priests that served the temple. The stone stele contains precious information about the way of life and running of the cities to a large extent. The number of houses and hospitals spread throughout the empire are found listed, along with major routing details from Angkor to other destinations, frequently travelled by the people of that time. These routes travel as far as ‘Phimai,’ in Thailand and the ‘Kingdom of Champa, ‘in Vietnam; thus covering extensive distances every which way.
Layout of the Ta Prohm temple complex
While extremely similar in comparison to the Bayon temple, the ‘Ta Prohm,’ has etched its mark in history for a great number of reasons. Tourists visiting the temple itself are taken on a guided tour across all the varied enclosures found within the temple.
The outermost and fifth enclosure of the ‘Ta Prohm,’ is about one kilometer and 600 meters wide. The entrance gates to this enclosure consist of large faces also known as ’Lokeshvara,’ facing all directions. Tourists who have visited the Bayon Temple and have seen the serene faces seen on the temple that overlooks them, can’t help but draw instant associations with the same.
The Eastern entrance of the temple leads tourists to a stunning view of a terrace, extending across a 350-meter long path. The terrace contains guardian lions and Naga Balustrades that cross the moat. Visitors can pay a visit to the resting house present at the front of the temple. The house remained a resting place for pilgrims visiting the temple for long periods of time. The stone stele clearly defines how thousands of men and women; who were servants, dancers and priests at the ‘Ta Prohm,’ resided within the fifth enclosure.
The 4th enclosure with the Hall of Dancers
The guide goes on to explain how the gate at the Eastern part of this enclosure contains the remains of a number of Buddhist scenes, most of which were found to be destroyed during the 13th century under the reign of ‘King Jayavarman VII.’ The few that survived are considered to be structures that were falsely observed as Hindu figures instead of Buddhist figures of significant value.
The 4th enclosure measures about 110 meters by 100 meters and has a moat that surrounds the famous temple. Within the moat, one can see 93 small cells, built for the Buddhist monks within the temple. The Eastern side is the main entrance to the temple and has a structure called the ‘Hall of Dancers,’ renowned to be one of the many dancing figures that embody the enclosure itself.
Buddhist scenes of the 3rd enclosure
To the pleasant surprise of most tourists, the end of the third enclosure leads up to galleries that further pave the way into small yet beautiful courtyards. Small sanctuaries are found around the courtyard, along with the portrayal of further Buddhist scenes.
The central region of both the North and Southern wall consists of Satellite temples, which were said to be built much later in time. The Southern part of the temple is denoted with scenes of the departure of Buddha and goes on to tell stories about ‘Gautam Buddha,’ who was born a Prince and lived in the palace for 29 years until he dedicated himself to live a life of meditation and abstinence in the years that followed.
Best Time to Visit the temple
If you’re looking for a temple tour with the weather in your favour, then the months of November through February would be the ideal time to visit the Ta Prohm. Tourists should also be well informed that these months are also the peak season and hence, don’t be taken aback by the large crowds that may overwhelm you.
Looking to skip the crowds and want a laid back temple tour? Then, travel through the months of June through October and explore the temple at your own pace.
Beat the crowds
Ignite the traveler in you, by taking a trip down to the Ta Prohm and witness a splendid sunrise; you won’t want to miss. Though, most tourists may visit the ‘Angkor Wat’, the Ta Prohm temple gives you a breathtakingly beautiful view.
The Ta Prohm Tour
One can travel from the Siem Reap to the Ta Prohm temple; in about 14 mins through multiple options – a car journey would take roughly 30 minutes, you could take a tuk-tuk ride or you enjoy an 80-minute bicycle ride either via Srah Srang or through the Angkor Thom. Tourists should make it a point to arrive at the temple before 07:30 am to avoid the massive crowds that follow, later through the day.
Ta Prohm Entry Ticket
Tourists can visit the Ta Prohm temple, from Monday to Sunday between 05:00 am and 06:00 pm. One should be aware that, the Ta Prohm entrance fee is already included in the Angkor pass, the costing for the above is found below.
One day pass – USD 37
Three Day Pass – USD 62 (This pass is valid for 10 days from its date of issue)
7 Day Pass – USD 72 (The pass remains valid for one month from the date of issue)
It is advisable for tourists to get a temple guidebook, which gives you a detailed understanding during your tour within the temple. Please remember that you’re in for a day with a lot of walking, so please wear comfortable footwear.
The temple tour is likely to take a couple of hours, thus please ensure you’ve had a good breakfast before your tour.