Ta Prohm: The Angkor Temple
Ta Prohm, the ancient temple at Angkor, is in Cambodia in Siem Reap Province. This beautiful Bacon style temple was built either in the late 12th century or in the early 13th century. Originally the temple was named as “Rajavihara”. People from all over the world can reach this temple very easily. This temple is just one kilometre away on the east of Angkor Thom and is actually situated on the edge of southern East Baray. Ta Prohm was discovered by the King of Khmer named Jayavarman VII. He named the temple under the Mahayana Buddhist University and monastery. In the year 1992, UNESCO added this temple in the World Heritage List. Most of the Angkorian temples were well maintained and restored after they were found but Ta Prohm temple was left as it is in the same condition in which it was founded. But despite of these things the temple is very much photogenic with the branches of trees coming out from the ruins. Thus, the temple is among the popular Angkorian temples. That’s why the temple is the most visited one in the Angkor region.
History behind the Temple:
As mentioned above King Jayavarman VII founded this temple in 1186 AD and the temple was named “Rajavihara” meaning monastery of the king. Now, the temple is known by the name “Ta Prohm” meaning ancestor Brahma. The king constructed this temple to honour his family. Even each and every part of the temple was dedicated to one of his family members. The main image of the temple was modelled on his mother and represents Prajnaparamita. The third enclosure consists of southern and northern temples. The southern one was dedicated to his elder brother whereas the northern one was devoted to his guru. The temple monastery of Preh Khan and Ta Prohm together form a complementary pair. The main image of them was dedicated to the king’s father and symbolises the compassion Lokesvara. Ta Prohm was abandoned for centuries after the fall of the Kings Empire during the 17th century. From the 21st century works to restore and conserve the temple begun. As per the 2013 records of the Archaeological Survey of India most of the parts of Ta Prohm are restored while the left ones are again constructed from scratch. The newly made platforms, roped railings and the wooden walkways have enhanced the outside look of the temple.
Design of Ta Prohm:
This biggest temple of Angkor includes 39 pinnacles towers, 260 statues of different gods and even 566 groups of residences. A number of low but long buildings are there in Ta Prohm and they are aligned with a rectangular laterite wall which is 1,959 by 3,281 feet long and is of 600 by 10,000 meters. There are some series of towers which are connected with respective passages which leads you to the centre of the monument. In all there are three galleries which enclose the whole area. Passages don’t exist in some areas of the place; thus one should follow the basic route plan if they don’t want to get lost in this huge temple. People can enter the west entrance of the temple through a forest. A stone terrace which is cross shaped is 350 meters from the west entrance. View from each and every corner of the terrace is no doubt spectacular.
The Central Sanctuary:
The most beautiful sights are offered by the centre of the place where one can clearly witness the beautiful work of the consoler and the destroyer as the temple was strangling on one side and healing on the next. The central sanctuary can be recognised by its undecorated but still stunning interior. The stones used are coated with gilt or paint but still look shiny and perfect. The whole place is holed from floor to walls and even ceilings but the holes are evenly spaced and look attractive. One must take a walk across the central courtyard and then pass through the dark passageway and the courtyard. There are four courts which are small in size but are equipped with separate galleries and almost 12 pillars. During the ancient time many ritual dancing ceremonies have been done here. The twin towers and the hall with pillars are amazing to look at.
The Popular Trees:
Whenever one has talked about this place, they must have told you some words about the beautiful ancient trees that are in this temple. These ancient trees have grown out from the ruins. They are regarded as the most distinctive feature of the temple of Ta Prohm. There is a lot of disagreement on the identification of the species of the different trees. But still is being said that the larger one is Ceiba Pentandra- the silk-cotton tree while the smaller one can be Ficus Gibbosa- the strangler fig or Diospyros Decandra- the gold apple tree. Many researchers and even writers have done their research on these trees but the most famous one is that of Maurice Glaize, the Angkor Scholar. He noticed that on each side the silk-cotton tree has its trunks soar skywards under the shadows of the green canopy. He also mentioned that the roots of the tree are endless and described them as coiling like a reptile.
Bounded with the giant roots of the massive trees and stunning precious stones, the temple is a must visit one and is the pride of Angkorian temples. The entire temple is indeed a beautiful one. Enjoy the mesmerizing music and dancing in the halls while visiting!