To be more accurate, the temple that we visited today was in a movie, but it was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, with Angeline Jolie (ok, not the greatest flick). It was also the backdrop for a better movie called Two Brothers about two tigers in Cambodia. But I digress.
Built in 1186 A.D., Ta Prohm is a jungle temple in Angkor, one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia and an UNESCO World Heritage site.
From Nathan: The first temple of the ancient Khmer that we saw was Ta Prohm. It was originally made as a Buddhist temple under Jayavarman VII, one of the kings of the Khmer Empire. Later when Jayavarman VIII came to power, it was converted to a Hindu temple. In the process, the king ordered the destruction of hundreds of Buddha carvings inside.
What makes this temple especially interesting is the trees. Banyan trees and their incredibly large roots have enveloped parts of the temple. As with most archaeological sites, it is undergoing restoration as part of a joint project between Cambodia and India.
From Aidan: To me, everything in the temple looked exactly the same. The one part about today that I did like was staying in our hotel and swimming in the afternoon. I’m also excited, because we get to eat dinner at the hotel, and the hotel has good food.
Needless to say, Aidan isn’t wild about temples, even jungle temples.
Travel Tip 43: Check the clothing restrictions at temples.
At Angkor, visitors must wear pants/shorts below the knee and shirts covering the shoulders. We saw some very disappointed American tourists get turned away.
East entrance to Ta Prohm, a jungle temple
Neerav, Nathan, Aidan, and Shellie in front of the east entrance to Ta Prohm
The temple was commissioned by King Jayavarman IIV in 1186 AD. It took 10 years to complete.
Pieces of a puzzle
The fallen bricks are labeled to indicate their estimated position.
Nathan, Shellie, Neerav, and Aidan in front of a Banyan tree that’s taken over this corner of the temple
Look closely behind the Banyan tree.
Banyon tree, both beautiful and destructive
Cambodian girl swinging on vines
Aidan gives it a try.
This is one of the Hindu etchings made to replace the Buddha that was removed.
Restoration in progress
Sign by the restoration areas
To the left of the tall pillar, you can see where the restoration team is slowly trying to piece together a puzzle.
All those empty spots used to have carved Buddhas inside.
The roots of this Banyan tree have to be braced.
Apsara, Khmer angels
Aidan and Nathan inside a Banyan tree root
Look carefully. See the carving?
So many doorways…
This entrance was in the movie, “Lara Croft: Tomb Raider,” starring Angelina Jolie.
This corner, too, was in the movie.
These tree roots remind me of an octopus.
Apsaras, or Khmer angels
Vendor is selling incense inside the temple.
Another tree’s “tentacles” are taking over.
The carving is clearly of a dinosaur. It’s the only one.
This root reminds me of an elephant trunk.
Aidan explores another passageway.
Aidan at Ta Prohm
Nathan inside Ta Prohm
The temple was originally constructed out of volcanic rock, but it easily crumbled over time. The builders then switched to sandstone.
This doorway is being overtaken by termites. What looks like dirt is a termite mound.
Yet another corridor…
The head of this apsara was removed for illegal sale.
These holes were made by people looking for gems inside the walls of the temple.
Recently restored area of Ta Prohm
This sign shows the before and after photos of restoration.
Nathan at Ta Prohm
Our guide, Sarith, shows how men were able to drill holes and then using wood dowels, move the rocks.
The moss adds to the effect.
Aspara, the Khmer angel
Side view of the east entrance to Ta Prohm
Lion near east entrance
We told Aidan to kiss the lion for good luck. He did.
These boys were selling wood flutes with grass cases for $1. Aidan bought one and got a quick lesson.