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REMERKABLE RUINS – Ta Prohm Temple, Cambodia

Ta Prohm Temple

Originally known as Rajavihara, Ta Prohm is the modern name of the temple at Angkor, Siem Reap Province, Cambodia. It was founded by the Khmer King Jayavarman VII, as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. It was built in the Bayon style largely in the late 12th and early 13th centuries. However, it should not be mistaken as the famous temple complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The main image of the temple, Prajnaparamita, the personification of wisdom, was molded like the king’s mother. Apart from the main temple, the other minor temples of the south and  the north in the third enclosure, were dedicated to the king’s guru, Jayamangalartha, and his elder brother respectively. Possibly, Ta Prohm was constructed as a complementary pair of the earlier temple of Preah Khan, dedicated in 1191 A.D, the main image of which represented the  Bodhishattva of compassion, Lokeshwara and was modelled on the king’s father. It is estimated that, once the site was the home for more than 12,500 people, which included 18 high priests and 615 dancers, along with an additional 800,000 people in the neighbouring villages who used to work to provide services and supplies

Ta Prohm is considered as a temple of towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors. It is oriented to the east, so the main temple proper is set back to the west along an elongated east-west axis. The outer wall of 1000 by 650 metres covers an area of about 650,000 square metres, which at one time was probably the site of an important town. There are four Gopuras (entrance building) at each of the cardinal points, although today one can access only from the east and the west. Face Towers, similar to those found in the Bayon style, were added to the Gopuras. However, some of the Face Towers have collapsed. It seems that, during its height, there were moats inside and outside the fourth enclosure.

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During the 15th century, after the collapse of the Khmer Empire, the temple of Ta Prohm was abandoned and neglected for centuries. This huge complex of buildings, covering about 600 square kilometers, was known far beyond the Khmer Empire until it was destroyed by Siamese troops in 1431.Till the end of the 19th century, most of the temples were concealed under the shadow of lush tropical forest, when a French naturalist Henri Mouhot accidentally discovered it. The effort to conserve and restore the temples of Angkor began in the early 21st century. However, it was decided that, a full-scale restoration of Ta Prohm will not be conducted, rather it would be left largely as it had been found. The decision was made due to the fact that the giant trees, such as ficus and silk tree, were so merged with the ancient walls that, eventually they have become a part of the whole.

The total complex of Angkor was taken under the protection of UNESCO in the year 1992..

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Ta Prohm the ruins

Ta Prohm c a relief

Dibyendu Banerjee
Dibyendu Banerjee

Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.

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