Our tour group arrived early one morning to the late 12th-century Ta Prohm temple, one of the best known of the Angkor sites in Cambodia, thanks to the overgrowth of trees hundreds of years old that have come to coexist with the temple ruins.
Unlike most Angkorian temples, Ta Prohm is in much the same condition in which it was found: the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor’s most popular temples with visitors.
UNESCO inscribed Ta Prohm on the World Heritage List in 1992. It is a photographer’s paradise, and we were fortunate to be at this very popular site with only a few additional visitors, including a small group of Buddhist monks.
Without any further commentary (except for a short note about the trees), enjoy these images I took on another beautiful Cambodian morning.
The trees growing out of the ruins are perhaps the most distinctive feature of Ta Prohm, and “have prompted more writers to descriptive excess than any other feature of Angkor.” Two species predominate, but sources disagree on their identification: the larger is either the silk-cotton tree (Ceiba pentandra) or thitpok Tetrameles nudiflora, and the smaller is either the strangler fig (Ficus gibbosa) or gold apple (Diospyros decandra). Angkor scholar Maurice Glaize observed, “On every side, in fantastic over-scale, the trunks of the silk-cotton trees soar skywards under a shadowy green canopy, their long spreading skirts trailing the ground and their endless roots coiling more like reptiles than plants.”Wikipedia
How wonderful to experience the atmospheric combination of trees, ruins, and jungle in a way that invites one to stop and ponder — in a unique and powerful setting — the relationship of humankind with nature.
A true treasure, and an opportunity not to be missed in the fascinating landscape of Southeast Asia.
More to come…
All images by DJB