25 May, 2008

Ta Prohm

. 25 May, 2008

Ta Prohm temples : A Strange Harmony of Stone and Vegetation

Ever saw a huge root of centuries old trees coiling and implanted on temples of the 12th century? There are many we can see at Ta Prohm temples, within the area of Angkor Archaeological Park - Northwestern Cambodia. These temples are considered the most beautiful by many visitors because of its extraordinary relationship with the surrounding jungle. Many archaeologists and groups of high school students from other countries come for doing survey and research. Ta Prohm is a very large Buddhist temple built by Jayavarman VII and once tended by 18 high priests and more than 2,500 lesser priests.
According to the history, it housed more than 12,000 people within its enclosures.

Approaching main gateway to the complex of Ta Prohm, the panorama gives the impression that these temples have been abandoned for years; in fact it’s been for centuries. We can see great blocks that fell centuries ago lie on the jungle floor covered in ferns and bushes. The main gateway is scary enough to pass through because the block stones roof are not well attached one another as if it could be broken or cracked apart and fall down anytime.

The main gateway

Winda,Laura,Esther,Risma,Elly --- Marida,Erna (sitting)

The temples were built by Khmers with the strong influence of Hinduism can be seen from their beautiful art of carvings portrayed on the walls of temples. The subject of these carvings are Hindu gods and stories from the great Hindu epics, particularly the Mahabrata and the Ramayana. Some carvings and statues remain as sharply carved.

The buildings walls are mostly cracked and bushed. It seems that the jungle slowly overtook the buildings, cracking and squeezing walls and splitting up stones apart.

Another interesting view at Ta Prohm is a strange harmony of stone and vegetation. We can see many temples with endless tree roots coiling and implanted on their spreading skirts. The canopy of trees which overhang the whole site obstruct the sunlight. There are insects, birds, bats and frogs everywhere, living in the ruins. It seems that the slow encroachment of the jungle continues to take place; these temples one day may disappear forever into the soil of the jungle.

It seems like restoration on this temples has not been started yet. Are these left so to maintain their uniqueness or to keep their originality; or to see how these original temples of the 12th century disappear naturally; or left so for archaeological study and research, or for other purposes? I guess it is being planned or being prepared. The restoration works must be very well planned, because it's a big and hard work to get all the temples restored whilst on the other hand their originality must be conserved.

Taking young children to take a walk surrounding the complex of Ta Prohm is not recommended. The passageways are bumpy, some are covered by fallen blocks and stones which takes extra energy to walk on. However, there is lots of fun to travel around and see great temples of 12th century surrounded by jungle.

visited on 12 April 2008

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Khmer Temples of d'Angkor


The “famous” Khmer temples of Angkor is one of many interesting places I visited on one week trip to Cambodia and Vietnam in the mid April 2008. The temples at Angkor are spread out over some 40 miles around the village of Siem Reap, about 192 miles from the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh. Siem Reap, is the closest city to the temples of Angkor which also known as “the gate to Angkor”. It is located in northwestern Cambodia. This city has been the major tourist hub in Cambodia since the discovery of the Angkor temples in 1860 opened up this ‘lost city’ to the world.

There is no direct flight from Medan to Siem Reap, so I took a flight to Kuala Lumpur and stayed there overnight because a flight to Siem Reap is at 7 a.m the next morning. It takes 2 hours flight from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap. Although Cambodia is a member of ASEAN, upon arrival I have to complete form and apply for Visa on Arrival. Visa fee is USD20 per person for single entry, valid for 30 days.

Entering area of Angkor Temples, one of the most famous World Heritage Sites where exists Angkor Archaeological Park, visitor have to buy entrance ticket or admission pass from the official counters of Aspara Authority. Passes are sold in one-day ($20), three-day ($40) and seven-day ($60) blocks that must be used on consecutive days. Visiting hour is 5.30 A.M to 5.30 P.M. While paying for the ticket , the teller shoots our face with pen size stand camera, and in seconds our photograph is printed on “non transferable entrance ticket”. We have to always carry the ticket. It will be checked upon each park entry and at major temples. There is a significant fine for not possessing a valid ticket inside the park.

The majority of Khmer temples are located in the Angkor Archaeological Park as well known as City of Angkor, a very large site with Tonle Sap Lake surrounded by temples in a range of different art and architecture style. It was a capital of Cambodia in the late ninth century, when Yasovarman I moved the capital to the immediate vicinity of Siem Reap. The temple ruins of Angkor contained within the Angkor Archaeological Park represent the remnants of the millennium-old Angkorian-era capitals of the ancient Khmer Empire.

Both sides of bridge are railed with statues

Tonle Sap lake behind the rail

A series of statues act as a fence

There are so many temple ruins in the Angkor Archaeological Park spread across more than 400 square km. The temples are in different artistic and architectural styles.They were built between the 8th and 13th centuries and range from single towers made of bricks to vast stone temple complexes.

One of the gateways into Angkor Thom

Motorbikes to hire ; called 'moto taxi'

One of around more than 100 large temples in Angkor'

Some of the statues and temples' wall are broken. According to the local people, it is caused by continuing rebel insurgency around the Angkor Region. This has caused some of the temples are closed to tourists. The major temples open to tourist are Khmer temples of Angkor Thom, Baphoun, Phnom Bakheng, Banteay Srei, Roluos Group, Grand and Small Circuits. Today, a great restoration work has been done on many of the temples. There are other temples located in the area, some up to 20 miles away from Siem Reap. Khmer temples can also be found in many other parts of Cambodia.

Visited on 12 April 2008 with group members from Pnom Penh (Normaline, Gindo), Jakarta (Laura, Priscilla, Winda, Katrina), Medan (Esther), Kuala Lumpur (Erna), Tuban (Marida, Benmarel, Benaya), Surabaya (Elly).

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