Ta Prohm BUDDHIST TEMPLE
The eventual Indiana Jones fantasy, Ta Prohm is cloaked in dappled gloominess, its decomposing towers and walls locked in the unhurried, well-built embrace of enormous main systems. If Angkor Wat, the Bayon and other temples are proof to the genius of the ancient Khmers, Ta Prohm reminds us equally of the very good prolificacy and power of the wilderness. We have a poetic cycle to this august, with humanity foremost discovering Mother Nature to speedily create, and nature once again conquering humanity to unhurriedly ruin.
Constructed from 1186 and firstly known as Rajavihara (Monastery of the King), Ta Prohm was a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII. Ta Prohm is a temple of towers, close courtyards and narrow corridors. Very old trees tower overhead, their leaves filtering the sunlight and casting a greenish pall over the whole view . It is the nearest most of us will get to feeling the mystery of the explorers of old.
Phnom Bakheng HINDU TEMPLE
Nearly 400m south of Angkor Thom, that hill’s primary draw is the sunset view of Angkor Wat, even though this has turned into something of a show, with hundreds of travellers jockeying for space. The temple, built by Yasovarman I (r 889–910), has five tiers with seven levels.
Preah Khan BUDDHIST TEMPLE
(Sacred Sword) The temple of Preah Khan (Sacred Sword) is one of the greatest complexes at Angkor, a maze of vaulted corridors, fine carvings and lichen-clad stonework. Built by Jayavarman VII, it covers a very large area, but the temple itself is within a rectangular wall of around 700m by 800m. Preah Khan is a genuine fusion temple, the eastern entrance devoted to Mahayana Buddhism, with equal-sized doors, and the other cardinal directions devoted to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, with successively smaller doors, emphasising the unequal nature of Hinduism.
Preah Neak Poan BUDDHIST TEMPLE
Another late-12th-century work of – no surprises here – Jayavarman VII, this small temple just east of Preah Khan has a big square pool surrounded by four smaller square pools, with a circular ‘island’ in the middle. Water once flowed from the central pond into the four peripheral pools via four ornamental spouts, in the form of an elephant’s head, a horse’s head, a lion’s head and a human head.
Roluos Group HINDU TEMPLE
The monuments of Roluos, which served as the capital for Indravarman I (r 877–89), are among the earliest big permanent temples constructed by the Khmers and mark the dawn of Khmer classical art. Preah Ko, dedicated to Shiva, has elaborate inscriptions in Sanskrit on the doorposts of each tower and some of the best surviving examples of Angkorian plasterwork. The city’s central temple, Bakong, with its five-tier central pyramid of sandstone, is a representation of Mt Meru. Roluos is 13km southeast of Siem Reap along NH6.