Around Angkor Wat nothing?

Ta Prohm Kel – A single small sandstone tower located opposite Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm Kel is the ruin of the temple or ‘chapel’ of one of the 102 hospitals built by Jayavarman VII throughout the kingdom. Of very similar design and state of ruin to the Chapel of the Hospital near Ta Keo. The Buddhist-themed carving on the northern pediment is in fair condition and displays marks of vandalism characteristic of the 13th century Hindu resurgence. The coarsely rendered carvings on the interior of the temple are probably from a much latter period.

Ta Prohm Temple – Of similar design to the later Jayavarman VII temples of Preah Khan and Banteay Kdei, this quiet, sprawling monastic complex is only partially cleared of jungle overgrowth. Intentionally left partially unrestored, massive fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the towers and corridors offering some of the best ‘tree-in-temple’ photo opportunities at Angkor. Flocks of noisy parrots flit from tree to tree adding to the jungle atmosphere. Ta Prohm is well worth an extended exploration of its dark corridors and open plazas. This temple was one of Jayavarman VII’s first major temple projects. Ta Prohm was dedicated to his mother. (Preah Khan, built shortly after Ta Prohm in the same general style, was dedicated to Jayavarman VII’s father.) Ta Prohm was originally constructed as a Buddhist monastery and was enormously wealthy in its time, boasting of control over 3000 villages, thousands of support staff and vast stores of jewels and gold. Of the monastic complex style temples, Ta Prohm is a superior example and should be included in almost any temple itinerary.

Ta Nei Temple – Small (55m x 47m), semi-ruined, untouristed jungle temple reminiscent of Ta Som, and displaying classic Jayavarman VII artistry. Some of the apsara and lintel carvings are in pretty good condition. In much rougher shape than most of the temples on the main tour circuit. The primary road to Ta Nei from where it meets the Grand Circuit road near the southeast corner of Ta Keo was closed on last inspection. To get to Ta Nei, park at the end of the road near Ta Keo and walk the dirt road about 1km to Ta Nei, or by motorcycle, follow unmarked dirt road from just outside the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom to the ‘French Dam.’ Cross the dam and proceed 200m up a small path.

Srah Srang – Picturesque baray opposite the east entrance of Banteay Kdei. Originally constructed by the same architect that built Pre Rup. Remodeled in the 12th century as part of Jayavarman VII’s massive building campaign. A multi-tiered landing platform on the west edge of the baray is adorned with naga balustrades and guardian lions. The very sparse remains of an island temple can be seen poking out of the middle of the lake during the dry season when the water is low. Srah Srang offers a pleasant, much less touristed sunrise alternative to Angkor Wat.

Ta Keo Temple – Towering but plainly decorated temple-mountain dedicated to Shiva. Known in its time as ‘the mountain with golden peaks.’ The first to be constructed wholly of sandstone, this temple employing huge sandstone blocks. Constructed under three kings, begun by Jayavarman V as his state-temple and continued under Jayaviravarman and Suryavarman I. When Jayavarman V first constructed Ta Keo, he part ways with previous kings, constructing his state temple outside of his main capital area. Construction on Ta Keo seems to have stopped particularly early in the decoration phase as evidenced by the lack of carvings. Ta Keo is well worth a visit, but if you are pressed for time, see Pre Rup instead.

Preah Ko Temple – Roluos Group. Six towers displaying set on a platform, all beautifully preserved carvings . Originally surrounded by walls and gopuras of which only vestiges remain. Preah Ko was one of the first major temples of the empire at the early Khmer capital of Hariharalaya. Preah Ko (Sacred Bull) derives its name from the statues of bulls at the front of the central towers.

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