Ta Prohm - Filip Šubrt Photo

“Landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer - and often the supreme disappointment."

Ansel Adams .


Angkor

Phnom Penh

Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is locating southwest of the East Mebon and east of Angkor Thom. Its outer enclosure is near the corner of Banteay Kdei. Ta Prohm was built during the reign of Jayavarman VII, a great king who reconquered the Khmer empire from Cham invaders in the years 1177-1181. Needless to say, the war caused great damage to the ancient capital of Angkor. The ambitious king set about making it into a proper seat of power by ordering the reconstruction of a number of temples. Ta Prohm was the centerpiece of his master plan, located roughly in the center of the capital. Though the temple covers barely 2.5 acres, its walls and moat encompass 148 acres, which would have sheltered a town attached to the temple. 

A Sanskrit inscription on stone, still in place, give details of the temple. Ta Prohm 3,140 villages. It took 79,365 people to maintain the temple including 18 great priests, 2,740 officials, 2,202 assistants and 615 dancers. Among the property belonging to the temple was a set of golden dishes weighing more than 500 kilograms, 35 diamonds, 40,620 pearls, 4,540 precious stones, 876 veils from China, 512 silk beds and 523 parasols. In its own era, the temple was known as Rajavihara, the 'Royal Monastery'.

Ta Prohm housed the deity Prajnaparamita, the 'perfection of wisdom.' It was consecrated in 1186. Like many Khmer kings, Jayavarman had it carved in the likeness of his mother. The Prajnaparamita statue was surrounded by 260 lesser divinities, housed in their own sanctuaries.

The design of Ta Prohm is that of a typical "flat" Khmer temple (as opposed to a temple-pyramid or temple-mountain, the inner levels of which are higher than the outer). Five rectangular enclosing walls surround a central sanctuary. Like most Khmer temples, Ta Prohm is oriented to the east, so the temple proper is set back to the west along an elongated east-west axis. The outer wall of 1000 by 650 metres encloses an area of 650,000 square metres that at one time would have been the site of a substantial town, but that is now largely forested. There are entrance gopuras at each of the cardinal points, although access today is now only possible from the east and west. In the 13th century, face towers similar to those found at the Bayon were added to the gopuras. Some of the face towers have collapsed. At one time, moats could be found inside and outside the fourth enclosure. 

Interestingly, the temple was also the headquarters of a vast hospital network created by the king. From Ta Prohm, supplies filtered out to 102 hospitals located throughout the empire. The Khmer kings seem to have taken the Buddha's call to mercy into their own hands.

As of 2013, Archaeological Survey of India has restored most parts of the temple complex some of which have been constructed from scratch.Wooden walkways, platforms and roped railings have been put in place around the site to protect the monument from further damages due to the large tourist inflow.