Ta Prohm : An abandoned Buddhist Temple

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple

An abandoned Buddhist temple that has been consumed by the Cambodian jungle.

Concerns have been raised about how the restoration will affect the natural environment.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
After serving as a filming location for the movie Tomb Rider, the temple became even more popular. Author: Aditya Karnad. CC BY 2.0

Ta Prohm is a temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, built primarily in the late 12th and early 13th centuries in the Bayon style east of Angkor Thom. The jungle surroundings and the plants growing out of the ruins have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.

It’s now known as Ta Prohm, but it was originally known as Rajavihara – the royal monastery – and was dedicated to the Buddhist personification of wisdom. But what interests me more than its construction is its current state: overrun by jungle. During the 500-odd years it was abandoned, strangler figs and silk cotton trees merged with the temple structures. I stood there stunned for a long time, filming its emptiness.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
Inside one of the structures at the temple. Author: Damien @ Flickr. CC BY 2.0

Many parts of the world have breathtaking old trees with unusual shapes and sizes that appear to be straight out of a fairy tale. The majestic giant known as the President in California is possibly the largest of the oldest trees, and the 1,000-year-old Angel Oak in South Carolina is the most beautiful due to its lush underground branches.

But, speaking of fairy tales, Cambodia has a “kingdom of the trees,” which is one of the most remarkable places on the planet. The abandoned Ta Prohm Temple in Angkor is embraced by the largest trees in the ancient city, so tightly that no tower or corridor on the site appears to be in danger of collapsing.

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The temple is part of Angkor Wat, one of the world’s most magnificent structures. Originally a Hindu Temple, it was built by King Suryavaram II. It was converted into a Buddhist sanctuary in the middle of the 15th century.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
It is a fascinating monument carved with many reliefs and sacred inscriptions. Author: michael clarke stuff. CC BY-SA 2.0

Ta Prohm was built as a gift to his mother by King Jayavarman VII, and it was originally known as Rajavihara, which means “Monastery of the King.” According to legend, the king’s mother was buried in the temple, and her tomb was surrounded by four massive diamond-encrusted walls.

Ta Prohm is the Angkor complex’s largest structure. It is made up of several towers that are linked by passageways that lead into the monument’s heart. The passages are the only parts of the temple that have been made accessible to tourists; the rest of the structure has been left untouched.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
It is the largest temple in the Angkor complex. Author: Staffan Scherz. CC BY 2.0

In the center of the structure is a stone with a Sanskrit inscription that provides information about the construction and how many people and priests lived there. There are also figures for how many precious stones, diamonds, and gold were found in the temple, which some historians believe were exaggerated in order to glorify the king.

Relief carvings from the 12th century depict scenes from the life of the Buddha on some of the enclosures. One of them tells a story of Prince Vessantara from the Buddhist Jataka Stories, the story of Gautama Buddha’s previous life in which he gave up everything and abandoned his palace to live a life of meditation.

Many other reliefs and sculptures can be found in the Ta Prohm temple complex, but the majority of them were partially destroyed when King Jayavarman VIII accepted Shiva as the supreme god of Hinduism and converted to Shaivism. The temple was used as a filming location for the film Tomb Raider in 2001, and shortly after its release, it drew millions of visitors to see this magnificent place.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
It was built by King Jayavarman VII as a gift to his mother. Author: Diego Delso. CC BY-SA 3.0

When Lara Croft (played by Angelina Jolie) picked up a jasmine flower, she was sucked beneath the old structure covered by its roots and was sucked beneath the old structure covered by its roots. It is known as The Tomb Raider Tree and is the most visited location in the temple.

As previously stated, because it is part of the Angkor complicated, the first building of the Ta Prohm Temple is not visible from the main road. The best way to get to this deserted tree kingdom is via a small path that leads to the lesser-used gates hidden deep within the Angkor forest.

Ta Prohm is without a doubt the most magical place on the planet, with its giant trees resembling the Ents from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings books. It is regarded as one of the most enigmatic locations on the planet.

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
The temple is part of Angkor Wat, one of the most mesmerizing structures ever built. Author: CEphoto, Uwe Aranas. CC BY-SA 3.0

Ta Prohm is an entirely different site, and perhaps no country has experience restoring such a monument. While Mr Grover mentions “structural repairs and restoration of the fallen temples and other components,” such intervention may be difficult to achieve.

Early in the day, the temple is at its most impressive. Allow up to two hours for your visit, especially if you want to discover the maze-like corridors and famous tree roots.

Read more about: Romanesque Revival Architectural United Methodist Church

Ta Prohm An Abandoned Buddhist Temple
Photo Credit – Original Owner

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