Built in Bayon style in the late 12th and early 13th century Ta Phorm is one of the sacred temples at Angkor, Cambodia. It was also known as Rajavihara and has the modern name as Ta Prohm. It is one of the favorite destinations among the tourists and is the mixture of nature and man made art. It is located one kilometer east of Angkor Thom and on the south side of east Baray near Tonle Bat, and was founded by Khmer King Jayavarman VII as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. It is different from most Angkorian temples; it is still in the same condition as it was found before. You can see a combination of growing trees and ruins with jungle surroundings which made it look more different from rest of the temples in Angkor.
Foundation and History of Ta Prohm
Rajavihara (Royal Temple) is known as Ta Prohm (Ancestor Brahma). A massive program of construction and public work was started by Jayavarman VII in Cambodia in 1181 A.D and this is one of the founded pursuant of that program. The foundation of stele commemorating gives a date of 1186 A.D. It was constructed as an honor to the family by Jayavarman VII. The main image of temple showing Prajnaparamita, the personification of wisdom was modeled on the king’s mother, while the southern and northern satellite temples in the third enclosure were dedicated to the elder brother and the guru. It is formed a complementary pair with the temple monastery of Preah Khan dedicated in 1191 A. D. The main image of Bodhisattva and Lokeshvara was modeled on the king’s father. The stele records show that the temple was home for more than 12,500 people with additional 80,000 souls in the surrounding villages working to provide services and supplies. It also shows the combined considerable riches including gold, pearls and silks. There were lots of additions and expansions and additions to Ta Prohm continued as late as the rule of Srindravarman until the end of 13th century.
In the 15th century when the Khmer empire fell the temple of Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. The plan to conserve and restore the holy temples of Angkor began in the 20th century, the institute of Asian societies (Ecole francaise d Extreme-Orient) decided to keep Ta Prohm in the same condition as it was found as a “concession to the general taste for the picturesque” much work was done to stabilize the ruins and to permit and access and to maintain the condition of apparent neglect as it was singled out because it was one of the most imposing temples merged with the jungle.
It is designed in a typically “flat” manner as the Temple Mountains in the inner levels are much higher than the outer. There are five rectangular enclosing walls surrounded with central sanctuary. It is oriented to the east like most of the Khmer temples it is a proper temple which is set back to the west along with an east-west axis. The outer wall is 1000 by 650 meters with an area of 650,000 square meters and it was a substantial town at one time but now it is largely forested. There are gopuras at the cardinal points where access is only possible from east to west. Face towers similar which was found at Bayon was added to these gopuras in the 13th century, while some of the face towers have collapsed and at one time the moats found inside and outside the fourth enclosure. There are three enclosures of the temple which are proper galleried with the corner towers of the first enclosure which forms a quincunx with the tower of the central sanctuary. There are additions made to the temple which includes large number of other buildings, it makes the plan complicated for the visitors by the twisty access necessitated by the temple’s partially collapsed state. There are libraries in the southeast corners of the first and third enclosures which are substantial parts of these other buildings, and there are satellite temples on the north and south sides of the third enclosures. While on the other side you will observe the Hall of Dancers between the third and fourth eastern side of gopuras and a House of Fire which is located east of the fourth eastern gopura.
The art of Ta Prohm
Most of the art of Ta Prohm was Buddhist narrative artwork which was destroyed by the Hindu iconoclasts after the death of Jayavarman VII, these are few narrative bas-reliefs of that time, but there are still some depictions of Buddhist mythology which are still visible in the art of Ta Prohm. The second bas-relied which illustrates the “Great Departure” of Siddhartha which is known as the future Buddha from his father’s palace. The temple also has the art of stone relief’s of devatas, meditating monks or ascetics and dvarapals and the unique temple guardians.
An additional exclusive feature of Ta Prohm is the trees which are growing out of the ruins which make a beautiful look and earliest feature of its kind. The trees includes two species predominate but sources disagree on the identification which is larger than the silk cotton tree or thikpok and another one is Strangler fig and Gold Apple. Which are regarded as “Descriptive excess”, was observed by Maurice Glaize. There is a fantastic look of over scale trunks of silk cotton trees which soar skywards under the green shadowy green canopy and the long spreading skirts trailing the ground which are endless roots coil more like reptiles than plants. The temple was also used in media in the movie Tomb Raider which took visual liberties with other Angkorian temples where the scenes of Ta Prohm was quite accurate with the actual appearance of the temple which gives the most peculiar qualities.
How to reach and what to see
Angkor is located near the town of Siem Reap and covers about 400 square kilometers which was the site for the series of capital cities of Khmer empire. The development and power was started from 900 to 1200 AD which persisted until the 15th century. During this period of time it faced the Siamese attacks which caused damaged to all the buildings except for Angkor Wat and the most famous temple was dumped. Angkor was declared as World Heritage Site by UNESCO in the year 1992, and undergone extensive conservation work with considerable results. The wonderful sites of Angkor are must watch for the tourists.
Angkor Wat is one of the most world-famous site in Siem reap Province which is just few kilometers away from the town. You can reach Siem Reap by taking a daily flight service from Phnom Penh. While Phnom Penh if well known for its beauty particularly the area near the Royal Palace where glorious Khmer towers located near the banks of Tonle Sap River.
The convenient way to reach Angkor and Cambodia is take direct flights from Bangkok, Hanoi, and Hochiminh city, Hong Kong, Kaula Lumpur, Singapore and Vientiane to the capital Phnom Penh. Angkor is famous for its architectures, plentiful myths and information which are now catching tourists to the place. You can enjoy these architectures in a better way if you appoint a guide.
There are charges to enter the sites of Angkor a one day entrance fee is $20 while $40 for three days and $60 for seven days. You need a photo of yourself to book your pass for the sites. Multi day passes are also available which had to be used on consecutive days.
It lies in the tropical zone between 10 and 14 degree of latitude facing north of equator. There temperature is quite good throughout the year which an average of 25 degree centigrade. The humidity if higher in night usually of 90 percent and average humidity goes to 80 percent during day time. The climate from November to February is cool and dry which is most comfortable time of the year to visit the temples of Angkor. The climate from March to May is hot and dry and less breezy during this time you can enjoy your tour at the beaches. The Angkor temples give the aesthetic look during the wet seasons from June to August, at this time you can enjoy the boat travels when there are raising water levels of river. The climate is cool and wet from September to November. During the rainy season the temples of Angkor are most beautiful and photogenic.
Currency & Visas
The currency here is RIELS. US $ are accepted throughout the country, there are some places in Phnom Penh where credit cards can be used with limited services and purchasing can also be done from travelers cheques. The rate of RIELS is fluctuating. You can get a fifteen day tourist visa at the rate of $20 at the arrival at Pochentong Airport, which requires at least 4 photos and formalities for the visa applications. You can also extend your visa period easily at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Office of Immigration.
Siem Reap is the best place to stay as there are no hotels in Angkor. There are many hotels available to suit all the budgets which offer excellent value with facilities and amenities depends on the costs. However low and medium budget hotels are also available with comfortable facilities. To avoid further problems with your stay you can book your accommodation in advance with the best suitable budget hotel in Siem Reap. There are guests house available for those who avoid staying in hotel.
Angkor is blessed with temples which make this city worth watching for the tourists in Cambodia. Go ahead and take pleasure in the world’s most striking Heritage Site with the history of Buddhists and Hindu mythologies.