Amazing Tomb Raider Temple – Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm

The Tomb Raider Temple or the Prasat Ta Prohm is one of the most popular temples of Siem Reap, thanks to the Hollywood movie Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.

Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm

The Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia, is popular as the Tomb Raider temple. This post is all about this amazing temple.

A road ran parallel to an ancient stone wall that had the appearance of being draped with a green carpet, thanks to the moss that covered it. Beyond the wall one could see tall, leafy trees swaying in the breeze, casting a web of shade onto the pathway. We passed a wooden signboard that said Prasat Ta Prom. We were approaching one of the most famous and popular temples of Siem Reap, Ta Prohm or known in popular parlance as the Tomb Raider Temple.

The temple, of course, has been the favorite of tourists and the selfie-hungry crowds from across the world. Flights to Siem Reap ferry curious tourists from around the world to see the magnificent temples. Siem Reap is of course where most people are headed to in Cambodia. One of the popular attractions of Siem Reap is undoubtedly Ta Prohm, the Tomb Raider Temple.

But was all the buzz around the Tomb Raider temple mere hype and its popularity an offshoot of Angelina Jolie’s movie of the same name that had scenes that were shot here? Was the Tomb raider temple Prasat Ta Prohm as massive and as beautiful as the Angkor Wat temple? How was the Tomb raider temple related to the temple of Prasat Preah Khan?

These are some of the questions that whirred in our minds as we reached the western gate of the Ta Prohm temple in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Prasat Ta Prom

Tomb Raider Temple – Prasat Ta Prohm

Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm

The Western gate is the one that is now open for the public to enter the world that captured the imagination of the world thanks to the character of Lara Croft immortalized by Angelina Jolie. At first glance, the entrance did not really bowl us over as it did look quite small as we had just seen the multiple stone faces of the Bayon temple that had impressed us with its massive contours.

However, we were sure we were about to enter an intriguing world, and with our hearts aflutter we entered the Tomb Raider temple. Before we recount our experience of exploring Ta Prohm, Cambodia, it would be appropriate to understand a bit about its genesis and history.

Tomb Raider Temple – History And Origin of Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia

Prasat Ta Prom

The temple that we know today as Ta Prohm or the Tomb Raider temple was known by the name of Rajavihara in ancient times. This translated loosely meant, “Royal Monastery”. This temple as with many of the massive temples that dot Siem Reap today was the brainchild of King Jayavarman VII.

The Rajavihara was part of the massive construction spree that Jayavarman VII embarked on under which he built temples, hospitals, and public utility buildings.

The Rajavihara was built in the year 1186 AD and Jayavarman VII had several statues installed here. However, the pride of place was reserved for the statue of Prajnaparamita to whom the place was dedicated. In Mahayana Buddhism, Prajnaparamita is the personification of the perfection of wisdom and is represented by the image of the “Great Mother”.

Jayavarman VII identified this cosmic entity with his own mother and hence the Rajavihara was a grand tribute to his own mother.

He later went on to build another magnificent and massive temple known as Preah Khan as an ode to his father. Jayavarman VII is considered the most powerful king of the Khmer kingdom who ruled for about 37 years and built 102 hospitals, temples, reservoirs, and public works for the welfare of the people.

He was a devout Buddhist and apart from the temples dedicated to his parents Dharanindravarman II and Jayarajacudamani also built temples like Neak Pean, Bayon, as well as the city of Angkor Thom.

Ta Prohm corridor

The Rajavihara was not just a mere temple, it was a cultural center of sorts. It is said that it was a small city within itself measuring 1 kilometer by 700 meters and enclosed by an exterior wall. The king had assigned 80,000 people who looked after the Ta Prohm temple known as Rajavihara in those days. These included priests and female dancers or Apsaras.

It is believed that about 12,500 people lived within the precincts of the Rajavihara itself while the others lived in the surrounding areas. The Rajavihara of yore must indeed have been a place buzzing with activity, it also attracted immense wealth in the form of gold, precious stones, silk, etc.

Prasat Ta Prohm

Time and destiny, however, played their part and the Rajavihara that once was the center of the Ta Prohm culture was abandoned during the 15th century with the fall of the Khmer empire. Nature now reclaimed its jurisdiction as huge trees slowly and surely embraced the ancient Rajavihara in a crushing embrace. The Rajavihara now lay silent and desolate, forgotten by mankind and claimed by the jungles of Cambodia.

It lay in the embrace of the oblivion of the jungle for well nigh five centuries before it was re-discovered in the 20th century.

Tomb Raider Temple

During the 21st century when the restoration of the temples of Siem Reap including Angkor Wat and others began, the organization working on this Ecole Francaise d’Extreme-Orient decided to keep the Ta Prohm Temple as it was found. The world seemed fascinated with the way the trees of the jungle had entwined the ancient Rajavihara which came to be known as Ta Prohm meaning, “Ancestor Brahma”.

The world soon came to identify it as the Angkor Wat Tomb Raider temple or Ta Prohm Tomb Raider.

Having said that currently India and Cambodia are working jointly towards the conservation and restoration of the Ta Prohm temple. The project is a partnership between the Archaeological Survey of India and the APSARA National Authority in cooperation with UNESCO.

The project is financed by the Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. Steps have been taken to ensure that the ancient temple of Ta Prohm does not deteriorate further, especially due to the effects of over-tourism. Wooden walkways with railings and platforms have been built to provide safe access to visitors without damaging the fragile structures that have borne the brunt of the ravages of time and nature.

The Ta Prohm Experience

Tomb Raider Temple

People were entering and exiting from the western gate. This is the gate through which one enters the Ta Prohm temple, however, the temple was originally built with the ritualistic entrance from the east. It had gates at all the cardinal points. An enigmatic face gazed down at us from the face tower as we entered the precincts of the temple.

The face towers at the entrances were a later addition sometime during the 13th century and resemble the faces of the Bayon temple.

The temple covers a vast area of around 650,000 square meters and is today mostly covered by trees and foliage.

Ta Phrom

We joined the stream of visitors who were making a beeline towards the ruins of Ta Prohm, they were of all sorts, different nationalities, some curious and eager to witness the remains of the ancient grandeur of the Khmer empire, some wanting a slice of their own Ta Prohm Lara Croft moment, some walked lost in thought apparently awed by the place, others chattered along oblivious to the majestic grandeur of the place.

Ta Phrom Temple

We walked along the vast grounds covered by thick patches of trees on either side until we spotted the entrance to the inner courtyards of the Ta Prohm temple. We crossed the threshold to enter the world of Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider temple Angkor!

A pile of rubble lay on one side, the carvings on the top of the entrance were eroded by time and the weather and were barely discernible. Once inside the atmosphere was eerie. The somnolent aura that enveloped the ruins of the temple was however smitten periodically by the yells and giggles of the tourists jostling for vantage points to have their pictures clicked.

The Ta Prohm temple is made up of five rectangular enclosing walls that surround the inner sanctuary from all sides. We also observed that unlike many of the other temples that we had visited earlier the Ta Prohm temple was built on a flat and single level.

Ta Prohm Carvings

Much of the temple is inaccessible while much of it is rubble overgrown with trees. But what remains is indeed a mysterious and intriguing world. Arched doorways, long corridors, remains of exquisite carvings.

Prasat Ta Prohm

Apsaras gazing down enigmatically from corners, all lend to the eerie aura that the temple is wrapped in.

Ta Prohm Angkor Wat

But what really arrests your attention is the overpowering presence of the giant trees that seem to have laid their stamp on the temple, proudly emphasizing that however massive the efforts of Man, nature does have the last say.

In terms of actual art and architecture, there is sadly little that survives today, so in that aspect, the temple is a let down as compared to the say the Prasat Khan or Angkor Wat itself, but the Ta Prohm temple lives up to the image of the Tomb Raider temple and must be experienced for that.

Ta Prohm Dinosaur

Ta Phrom Dinosaur

Paleontologists claim that the dinosaurs became extinct from the surface of the earth more than 65 million years ago before the advent of Man. If that is so then what is the image of this dinosaur-like animal engraved in a corner of the Ta Prohm temple? This carving is in remarkably good attention. But it is generally believed that the carving could be the representation of a Rhinoceros and not that of a Stegosaurus as popular speculation would have us believe.

Ta Prohm Map

Ta Prohm Map

How To Get To Ta Prohm Temple

Tomb Raider Temple - Tomb raider temple angkor wat

  • The famous temple of Ta Prohm is located within the Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia
  • It is located about 7.8 kilometers from the famous Angkor Wat Temple
  • The Ta Prohm temple is around 12.7 kilometers from Siem Reap city center
  • One can reach Ta Prohm by car, bicycle, or Tuk-Tuk from Siem Reap

Tomb Raider Temple / Ta Prohm Temple Facts – Things to know before visiting

Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm Trees

  • The ancient name of the Ta Prohm temple was Rajavihara or Royal Monastery
  • The temple is also  referred to as Prasat Ta Prohm – The Ancestor Brahma, Jungle Temple
  • It is famous as Ta Prohm: Angkor’s “Tomb Raider Temple”
  • The Tomb Raider Angkor Wat scene captured the imagination of the world
  • Ta Prohm was built in the 12th century by King Jayavarman VII and was abandoned in the 15th century after which it was claimed by the jungle, to be rediscovered in the 20th century
  • The Ta Prohm was built in honor of King Jayavarman VII’s mother

Tomb Raider Temple /  Ta Prohm – Angkor tree temple – FAQ

Tomb Raider Temple Ta Prohm - Angkor tree temple

How old are the trees at Ta Prohm?

The most striking feature of Ta Prohm is the mysterious trees that embrace it in a crushing embrace, these trees are mostly of the Silk-Cotton tree and Strangler Fig varieties. The trees are more than hu

Is Ta Prohm part of Angkor Wat?

Ta Prohm is a temple that is located within the Angkor Archaeological Park. Angkor Wat is a separate temple with the same Angkor Archaeological Park in Siem Reap.

Who built Ta Prohm temple?

The Ta Prohm temple was built by King Jayavarman VII during the 12th century in honor of his mother.

What does Ta Prohm mean?

Ta Prohm literally means, ‘ancestor Brahma’.

Was Indiana Jones filmed in Cambodia?

Various films including Tomb Raider and others have been filmed in Cambodia.

What will be the Ta Prohm trees’ age?

They are said to be more than 500 years old.

How was the Ta Prohm culture of ancient times?

Ta Prohm was a huge royal monastery called Rajavihara and a veritable town in itself. It is estimated that more than 12,500 people lived inside the temple and more than 80,000 men and women were employed in its upkeep. This included maintenance staff, priests, and dancers known as Apsaras.

What is the Ta Prohm entrance fee?

The Ta Prohm temple can be visited with the Angkor Pass.

Is Ta Prohm sunrise worth seeing?

Sunrise and sunset in the midst of the magnificent and enigmatic temples of Siem Reap are always a spectacle worth watching. Sunrise at Ta Prohm is no exception.

How to Reach Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • Siem Reap is at a distance of about 318 kilometers from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh
  • One can fly directly to Siem Reap which is served by the Siem Reap International Airport that is well connected
  • The temple of Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm, and the other famous temples are within easy reach of Siem Reap city

Are you looking to get to Siem Reap to explore its magnificent temples? You can book a cheap flight through TripAdvisor or Agoda or CheapAir or Cleartrip or Makemytrip or Priceline right here.

Where To Stay In Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap offers a full range of accommodation options. What every your traveling style, the city has you covered. From uber-luxury hotels, hostels, budget hotels, and homestays, Siem Reap has them all. We stayed at the Kingdom Angkor Hotel one of the best luxury hotels in Siem Reap.

You can book Kingdom Angkor Hotel or any other Siem Reap hotel through TripAdvisor or Cleartrip or Agoda or Makemytrip or Priceline and save huge by getting the best deals on booking your stay.

Click to book the best hotel/resort in Siem Reap

Siem Reap Tours/Package Tours available in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap with its many attractions can become a bit overwhelming sometimes. So if you are wondering how to plan your visit then look no further. Siem Reap ToursAmazing Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia are available easily. You can now book tours in Siem Reap as well as activities in Siem Reap.

Click to know more about Best Attractions and Activities in Siem Reap.

Where And What To Eat In Siem Reap, Cambodia

  • Siem Reap offers a range of options in terms of food and is a truly international destination in that sense
  • There is a range of cuisine from Indian, Thai, Chinese, Italian, Continental, etc., and one can also have food at a plush restaurant or from a roadside cafe or from the street food vendor
  • During your temple tour of the Angkor Archaeological Park, you can have food and cold drinks at the small outlets near the temple complex
  • VEGETARIAN ALERT! If you are a vegetarian it would be prudent to double-check on the food as well as the cooking medium, do check out where and what to eat and where we ate when in Siem Reap as well as in other places of Cambodia check out our guide to vegetarian food in Cambodia

We hope you liked our post about the Ta Prohm temple and refer to it if you are looking for a Ta Prohm guide. If you have already visited Ta Prohm, do let us know how you found it? If you are planning a visit, share your views after the visit. We always love to hear back from you our dear reader, hence do connect with us through the comments section or through any of our social media handles.

You may be interested in reading our other posts on Cambodia:

2 days in Siem Reap – Angkor Wat Itinerary
Siem Reap Temples – Must See Temples in Siem Reap, Cambodia
Things to do in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
National Museum in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
A Guide to Vegetarian Food in Cambodia
Phnom Da, Takeo Province, Cambodia
Takeo Province, Cambodia – Phnom Chisor and Ta Prohm


Tomb Raider Temple - Ta Prohm

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5 thoughts on “Amazing Tomb Raider Temple – Ta Prohm, Siem Reap, Cambodia”

  1. I love the way the trees have grown around Ta Prohm temple. It is such a beautiful mix of ancient art and nature. Still, it is really good to hear that the authorities are starting to work out ways to protect it and preserve it for future generations. It must have been a fascinating area to explore.

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