Our trip to Ta Prohm started early in the morning. The big, red-faced sun was just coming up the horizon when our tuk tuk slashed through the plain in Siem Reap. Sleepy and waspish, I had no idea what was waiting for me. The name Ta Prohm, or in ancient Khmer, Rajavihara, sound equally strange to me. It didn’t take long before we arrived at the entrance of the temple, which was actually a hole under a pile of rubbles and rocks.
Walking in full of doubts, we were immediately welcomed by a huge tree pricking into the sky with its wooden monolith. At the root of the tree nestled a squatting temple that was looking blankly at us. We walked into that dark eye and found ourselves in a long corridor. Numerous gods were engraved into stone pillars; still quite visible were their hands, feet and faces. The corridor enclosed another yard full of rocks, upon which trees crisscrossed their roots, stretching further, all the way up to the spines and ribs of a tower, trying to tear it apart. At another corner of the yard, a big tress was squeezed around the waist by two corridors that met in rectangular, so it zigzagged its roots over the roofs for about ten meters.
It was still early; J and I was the only two persons in the temple, but with the trees whispering, stones chanting and Gods watching, we were hardly alone. As we stepped out of the corridor, the sun was behind a thin tree that was leaning over to the edge of a hill. On one façade it was as if some slender but majestic figure was descending from the sky.
Built when literacy was spreading out of churches in Europe, the Ta Prohm in Cambodia was one of the most remarkable legacies left by the Jayavarman VII, the King of the Empire. During its heyday the temple homed more than ten thousand priests, dancers and workers, and stored massive treasures such as gold, pearls, and silks. For more than two hundred years it had been one of the riches temples in Angkor until its crown was smashed along with the empire in 15th century.
For centuries Ta Prohm was abandoned and forgotten in the deep of forests. Nature gradually took its course. When it was re-discovered, people decided that Ta Prohm should be left as it had been found: a twisting scene of ancient glory with rampageous nature. As we were walking out of the site, I took one last look at the century-old walls and found that they were totally under the sun now. The stones were painted by a bright golden colour that still reflected the aspiration of the Old King.
- Temple-spotting in Cambodia (revolutionizingawareness.com)
- Temple Trekking in Cambodia (roixcroix.wordpress.com)