A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm

A couple, standing in front of the Ta Prohm Temple in Cambodia, which is overgrown by trees.

Regarded as one of Angkor’s most atmospheric temples, Ta Prohm is perhaps best known as the location in which the movie Tomb Raider was filmed (admittedly, I have not seen it).

The circa 12th century temple’s gnarly, towering trees are at times indistinguishable from the stone walls, pillars, and foundations that they are devouring.

And the setting is mysterious.

If you have ever pondered what would happen to man’s structures if left tended only by Mother Nature for several centuries, Ta Prohm illustrates the answer well.

Shawn and me.

Ta Prohm was built by King Jayavarman VII in honor of his mother, Jayashitamani. Since 2006, it has been undergoing renovation, thanks to the Indian government. Thus far, the projects have stabilized the structure, using metal girders.  A colonnade has also been restored, using columns that long ago haphazardly collapsed. It is expected that these jigsaw-like puzzle repairs will continue through 2014.

I feel fortunate to have twice seen Ta Prohm before the complex becomes too refurbished, for it is the temple’s faults that offer the most treasured character.

Where in the World?

Photography & text © Tricia A. Mitchell. All rights reserved.

Published by Tricia A. Mitchell

Tricia A. Mitchell is a freelance writer and photographer. Born in Europe but raised in the United States, she has lived in Valletta, Malta; Heidelberg, Germany; and Split, Croatia. An avid globetrotter who has visited more than 65 countries, she has a penchant for off-season travel. Tricia has learned that travel’s greatest gift is not sightseeing, rather it is the interactions with people. Some of her most memorable experiences have been sharing a bottle of champagne with distant French cousins in Lorraine, learning how to milk goats in a sleepy Bulgarian village, and ringing in the Vietnamese New Year with a Hanoi family. She welcomes any opportunity to practice French and German, and she loves delving into a place’s history and artisanal food scene. A former education administrator and training specialist, Tricia has a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s degree in international relations. She and her husband, Shawn, married in the ruins of a snowy German castle. They’ve been known to escape winter by basing themselves in coastal Croatia or Southeast Asia. Her writing has appeared in Fodor’s Travel, Frommer’s, and International Living.

17 thoughts on “A Return to Angkor: The Tree-Adorned Temple of Ta Prohm

    1. Victor, agreed! Both times I have been to Angkor, time has been rather short and I felt as though I was whizzing through the various sites. It is incredible how many there are to see! Which temples were your favorites?

      I’m hoping to make it to Banteay Srei the next time we’re in Siem Reap. I’ve heard it’s a beautiful and delicately-carved temple.

    1. Sonali, I hope your dream will soon become a reality! Angkor is such a tremendous place to explore and savor. It’s a pleasure to hear that my photos have allowed others to escape there – if only for a few moments. :)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to let me know you enjoyed the photos from our Angkorian adventures; it makes sharing the photos that much more enjoyable. I just saw your images from Germany – lovely! Makes me yearn for Europe, even though we’re enjoying Asia so very much!

  1. I am so excited to be coming here next month! First trip since covid shutdowns. Can’t wait to get out exploring again! Your photos have got me so pumped! Thanks. X

    1. How exciting that you’re Cambodia-bound, Anna! Is it your first time visiting? I haven’t gotten a chance to write about a homestay we stayed in while in rural Takéo province. I’m happy to send the contact information of the family who runs the guesthouse if you think you’ll be venturing outside of Siem Reap, etc. Either way, I hope you have a fantastic trip.

      1. Hi Tricia, yes my first time visiting! Really looking forward to it. I only have 4 days there so probably won’t venture too far out of Siem Reap but thanks for the offer of help anyway! Much appreciated. X

      2. We haven’t been to Siem Reap since 2011. However, not far from Siem Reap there was a great silk farm where you could learn about the entire process of silk-making. We headed there for a few hours and then returned to our Siem Reap hotel the same day: https://triciaannemitchell.com/2012/01/07/learning-the-fine-art-of-sericulture-weaving-on-a-cambodian-silk-farm/ It might be a fun side trip for you if you’re interested in artisans and craftsmanship. Either way, have a wonderful trip, Anna!

      3. For some reason I can’t log on to your other post and comment. But thanks for the link to that page. Silk production is just amazing! If i have the time I’ll keep this place in mind! Thanks! X

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