Siem Reap - Temples of Angkor


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Ta Prohm

The original name of the monastic complex was Raja Vinhara or Royal Monastery.    Abandoned for hundreds of years it became know locally as Ta 'Ancestor' Prohm 'Brahama'Temple, the heads of Buddha being mistaken for the four headed Hindu God Brahama
Blind musicians at the gate to Ta Prohm. I very much regretted leaving my purse in the car with my driver

Meet Choun Nhrem (Neem), the octogenarian 'Sweeper of Ta Prohm' who graces the the cover of my 2002 edition of the Lonely Planet Cambodia. These days he sits quietly amid the ruins relishing  his new found notoriety, chatting to visitors, selling trinkets and proudly displaying a copy of THE book.  For a small token he will re-enact the now well know image for you.   Even those like me who brought no money into the temple were favoured with a lovely smile and permission to photograph 

 Update:   He continued taking care of Ta Prohm until he died in 2009 at the age of 87

A Sanskrit stele now removed for protection,  claims the Ta Prohm  monastic complex owned 3,140 villages, it took 79,365 people to maintain the temple, including 18 priests, 2,740 officials, 2,202 assistants, and 615 dancers
Central Sanctuary

         The central sanctuary is lacking in decoration.  It is thought the outer walls were gilded stucco and the inner walls covered in metal plates
One of the most photographed buildings at Ta Prohm

In 2010 the Archaeological Survey of India began an extensive restoration project at the complex, some parts being completely rebuilt.  Wooden walkways, platforms and roped railings have been erected to prevent the large influx of tourists from doing further damage

I was so lucky to find the temple almost deserted on my first visit and managed to ensured it was in 2007 by being at the entrance as it opened

Hall Of The Dancers pre restoration Strangler Fig  Hall of the Dancers Dead Trees are a major problem
 Kapok (silk cotton) Strangler Fig and Banyan trees run riot

 To remove or not to remove, that is the question

Hmm, which piece next, at the worlds largest jig saw puzzle  

The so called "Apsara Dance" and costumes we see in performances today were inspired by the bas-reliefs of Angkor and created by the Royal Ballet of Cambodia in the mid 20th century under the patronage of Queen Sisowath Kossamak.  It came under threat again during the Khmer Rouge regime but the few surviving dancers trained others and in 2003 UNESCO proclaimed it a "Masterpiece of Intangible Cultural Heritage "

Banteay Srei

Built mostly of hard red sandstone which accounts for the good condition of the decorative wall carvings.  The buildings are on a much smaller scale than others at Angkor and more delicately decorated.   It is for this reason it became know as the Citadel Of The Women

Exquisite but mostly roped off for renovation and hosting a very large tour group

Beautifully preserved Entry Gate

Blessedly quiet, tiny perfect un-restored Ta Som



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