Tomb Raider




December 2014 • Canon 60D camera

UNESCO World Heritage site

We arrived at Ta Prohm early in the morning around 8am. This is a popular temple in Angkor, due to it being part of famous Hollywood movie with Angelina Jolie, Tomb Raider. By coming early, Channy said we would avoid the typically large crowds and be able to wonder and take pictures without being rushed. He was right. As we arrived, there were just a handful of tourists. Built in the 12th Century by Jayavarman VII, Ta Prohm was originally known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King)

By the mid 15th Century, the Khmer Empire went into decline and the temple fell into ruins. The jungle took over and covered large areas of the temple. There are trees—giant silk cotton, Strangler Fig and Kapok—growing in between the walls of the temple. It almost feels like you have discovered the temple for the first time. Some of the trees look very alien like to me; large tentacles covering the roof and temples. I had never seen anything like it before.

The temple feels like a maze. Narrow corridors lead to small closed off courtyards. In certain areas, the large trees towering above produced large shadows as you walked throught the temple complex.

There are miniature towers you could step into and others that was a pile of bricks. In fact a lot of the buildings here seem to be damaged and in ruins. Large bricks and stones are scattered everywhere.

Did you know...

Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of King Jayavarman VII.

One tower had an impressive echo system you could try out. Stepping into the tower and with your back against the wall, you can beat your chest and a large echo fills the tower.

Strange, as this is the only tower in the temple that has this echo effect. But it's cool that someone discovered you could do this.

Dinosaur carving

Ta Prohm is also famous for not only for the movie, but also for the dinosaur carving in a quiet corner of the temple. The carving is part of a series of animal carvings. While the other animals are are clearly known, such as a monkey or bird, this carving has a look of a Stegosaurus.

Some has taken this to believe that certain dinosaurs still existed at the time of humans. Others say it is a hoax and that someone has altered an existing carving of an animal. The mystery is yet to be solved...

Final thoughts

Although this is a popular temple to visit, architecturally I did not find it as impressive as Angkor Wat, Bayon or Banteay Srei. Ta Prohm is a wonderful mixture of nature and ancient civilisation blended into one. The jungle has taken over large parts of the temple complex, which adds to the appeal and curiosity of this temple.

Without this unique feature, it would be another temple. I still recommend visiting the temple, but if you had only one day at Angkor I would prioritise the aforementioned three temples before Ta Prohm. Try and visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

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