If you’re up on modern movies, you’ll recognize Ta Prohm: it’s where Tomb Raider takes place. (Actually, Tomb Raider was shot all over the Angkor ruins; I have no idea how they kept Angelina Jolie from getting heatstroke. It’s bloody hot out here!)
Ta Prohm was a monastery built by King Jayavarman VII, last of the great Angkor kings, to obtain merit for his mother. When restoration of the temples began, the French Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient chose Ta Prohm to be left in its “natural” state, as an example of how most of Angkor looked in the early 19th century. (They did, however, clear away the jungle and the landmines.) As a result, Ta Prohm is full of giant banyan and silk-cotton trees growing up out of the ruins–some of them over 400 years old!
Ta Prohm, with Banteay Srei (delicate pink sandstone carvings), is my favorite of the Angkor temples. The giant trees and mosses give it a pleasantly ruined/romantic atmosphere, and because it’s a little further out than Angkor Wat, it’s not quite as overrun with tourists.
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