Updated: Jan 7
Mention "Angkor Wat", most people will know it. Mention "Ta Prohm", it will hardly ring a bell. Mention the movie "Tomb Raider" or Angelina Jolie filming in Angkor in year 2000 and most of them will suddenly recall that's "one of the temples" in the movie. Yes, many people knew it as "Angelina Jolie Temple".
Ta Prohm was a Buddhist monastery and university. It was abandoned during the Hindu-reign of the Angkorian era and most of its Buddha statues were destroyed. The temple had merged with the jungle long before the end of the Angkor empire and with large trees growing in the temple.
More on Ta Prohm on Wikipedia.
Today's Ta Prohm remains largely in the same conditions as when it was discovered. If it were not for Angelina Jolie, few travellers would want to visit a temple that was once abandoned and continues to be "neglected" today — I mean, minimal restoration.
After getting to the site entrance for Ta Prohm, we had to walked a short distance into the jungle to get to the temple. The trees seemed "normal" from outside the temple.
This is a popular spot for taking photos in Ta Prohm with a part of the temple and buttress of one of the trees. Check out the size of that gigantic tree.
The silvery trunks with bright green leaves are really pretty sights. These are the silk-cotton trees, or kapok, that can grow to 70m tall with trunks up to 3m in diameters.
The photo below will give a better picture of the gigantic trees in Ta Prohm.
The trees have became part of the temple, using the structures to support themselves, as well as reinforcing the structure and keeping them in place. In a way, if the trees are to be cut down, the buildings will collapse, or if the buildings collapsed, the trees will fall. This has been how the temple and trees supported one another over several centuries — and many more years to come.
An extraordinary sight in Ta Prohm is the roots of one of the big trees opening a small hole that was big enough for the head of a bas-relief to observe the world outside.
Cannot find it? Take a closer look.
As much as they supported one another, the trees can destroy buildings too. Nature will never give in to humans.
These bas-reliefs with empty slots on a long wall provide evidence that Buddha statues that were once placed here had been destroyed long ago.
A restored Buddha statue sitting in one of the buildings. This is probably the only Buddha statue in Ta Prohm.
And don't forget to take a photo with a tree... roots.
Check out Bayon Temple: