There are a lot of truly remarkable temples in the Angkor Wat complex and aside from Angkor Wat itself, none is more famous than the “Tomb Raider” temple. The abandoned Ta Prohm temple ruins covered in overgrown tree roots and rubble was featured prominently in the 2001 Angelina Jolie movie, hence its nickname.
By the time we got to Ta Prohm, I had minimal expectations. For one, I had just come from seeing Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple, which are massive and spectacular. Secondly, it looks positively tiny on the map next to Angkor Thom, where Bayon is located. So I was expecting a tiny temple that was comprised mostly of the one root-covered hallway shown in the movie, which I barely remembered at the time.
To my delight, Ta Prohm was actually quite sizable, featuring five concentric square walls leading to an inner sanctuary that have been reclaimed by the trees around it. And all of it was jaw-droppingly beautiful, from the mossy wall carvings to the way the sunlight shines down on it through the trees. Even though it’s full of people, there’s a quiet peace that’s broken only by the sounds of the birds in the surrounding jungle. Having now rewatched Tomb Raider, this is a feature the film captures very well actually.
It’s the kind of place that makes me wish I could spend an entire day there without any other people. Also makes me wish I hadn’t dropped out of that photography class at my community college. But I tried my best to capture its splendor.
Now these photos are somewhat misleading. There are a lot of people visiting Ta Prohm, particularly on the main elevated walkways that were built to accommodate tourists. I would be remiss in not documenting what the site actually looks like with people in it. This also gives you a pretty good idea of the scale.
If you want to escape the crowds at Ta Prohm, there’s no shortage of empty alcoves and hallways, some barely accessible because they’ve collaped.