Ta Prohm Temple, Siem Reap Overview

Ta Prohm is one of the prominent temples in Siem Reap in Cambodia. It is popularly known as the 'Tomb Raider Temple' because of its appearance in the Tomb Raider movie. Unlike other structures, Ta Prohm has been left in the same condition in which it was found. It is surrounded by thick jungle, making you feel as if you have come to a lost world. Massive roots of Banyan and Kapok trees, which are hundreds of years old, carpet the temple premises masking the Bas reliefs. Many shrubs, creepers and moss conceal most of the temple corridors making them impassable, which gives an ethereal look to the temple. It is one of the places in Siem Reap where nature conquered its place from humans in history.

It is estimated that over 80,000 people were involved in the running of Ta Prohm temple, which included 2000 officials and 600+ dancers. Bas reliefs contain detailed inscriptions about the social life, wealth and status, indicating Ta Prohm had a vast amount of gold, pearls and precious stones.

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Ticket details

The entrance fee for admission to Ta Prohm temple is included with the temple pass for central Angkor. Foreigners are required to buy an admission pass, called the Angkor pass, which can only be purchased at the official ticket centre, located 4 kilometres away from Siem Reap town. It is open from 5:00 AM to 5:30 PM every day. The entrance ticket can be purchased either by cash (US Dollars, Cambodian Riel, Thai Baht or Euro) or by credit card.

Tickets issued after 5:00 PM are only valid from the next day. There are three types of admission passes available, depending on the number of entries:
1-Day: USD 37 for a day pass
3-Days: USD 62 valid for ten days
7-Days: USD 72 valid for one month

Best time to visit

Ta Prohm looks impressive during the early morning. You need at least two hours to explore Ta Prohm, and more if you are visiting during peak hours, due to limited accessibility.

Ta Prohm Temple History & Significance

Originally called Rajavihara or 'Monastery of the King,' Ta Prohm was a prominent Buddhist temple built by Khmer's greatest King Jayavarman VII. Built in 1186, he dedicated this temple to his family, mainly his mother. The main idol called Prajnaparamita, which means personification of wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism, was modelled on the King's mother.

Records say Ta Prohm was a significant temple during the entire period of the Khmer dynasty, with successive kings adding many sculptures throughout its existence. Many inscriptions indicate the enormous wealth Ta Prohm had amassed. It also housed the tomb of King Jayavarman VII's mother, which was enclosed within stone walls surrounded by diamonds.

After the fall of Khmer empire in the 15th century, Ta Prohm became neglected like many of Angkor temples. Upon its discovery, archaeologists decided to leave the large roots as they were, adding to the mystic quality of Ta Prohm.

Architecture

Unlike other temples of the Khmer dynasty, Ta Prohm has a flat structure - a one-storey, rectangular structure, enclosed within massive stone walls. There are four entry points with towers, two of which had stone faces similar to that in Bayon. The temple faces east, but the entry from the west is the only open gate today. From here, you can see the three sections of this temple. It is likely that the original area must have been more extensive than the present day, indicated by a stone basement encircling the existing walls. You'll first pass through the outer Gopura, much of which is adorned by giant tree roots.

Within the second section, you'll find galleries consisting of bas reliefs. This is the portion of the temple with Sanskrit inscriptions, most parts of which have been swallowed by the jungle today. There is a hall of dancers, a library and a house of fire among the prominent buildings within this section.

Walking through the narrow passages, you can go further to the central sanctuary. Historians do not have accurate records of the shrine at the centre, partly because Ta Prohm was initially a Buddhist shrine and later on became a Hindu temple after King Jayavarman's death. But as mentioned earlier, more than the architecture itself, the formation of tree roots over the structure has transformed it into beautiful ruins, for which Ta Prohm attracts millions of its visitors.

What to wear

As with the other temples in Siem Reap, it is expected that tourists dress appropriately. Women need to cover their shoulder at all times and wear knee-length attire. Sleeveless shirts and shorts aren't also allowed for both men and women. The rules are strictly followed, and you might be denied entry by the guards if you fail to obey them.

General tips

Keep enough water and stay hydrated at all times. Wear sunscreen while visiting temples. And finally, temple touring involves a lot of walking, so take sufficient rest in between the temples.

Ta Prohm tips

Unlike other temples that have been excavated from the ruins by clearing paths and making them presentable, you'll visit Ta Prohm in its ruins, and as such, you should be careful while exploring. A maintained trail has been marked for the visitors, and make sure to follow the path. Although the idea of getting rustic, perfect shots amidst boulders look enticing, it is not safe to climb them or try to navigate off the known passages and narrow corridors.

If you visit during peak times, expect large crowds and be ready to wait long to navigate through the narrow paths within the temple patiently.

Since Ta Prohm is surrounded by greenery, you could visit even during the evening when the temperature drops and gets relatively relaxed.

How to reach

The most popular way to reach Ta Prohm temple is by car or bus, and you’re typically looking at around a 30-minute drive. A day’s hire of a tuk-tuk from the town around the major temples at Angkor Wat and back should cost around USD 15-25. For a guided tour, expect to pay closer to USD 25.

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