Ta Prohm – Temple in the Trees

King Jayavarman VII built the temple in dedication to his mother. Construction began in 1186 CE. The temple honours Prajnaparamita (the goddess of wisdom in Mahayana Buddhism). We know the temple from the Angelina Jolie movie Tomb Raider.

Iconic Shots from Tomb Raider

The tree with the roots growing in the temple is the main image which makes people think Ta Prohm.  The other, the image of a Buddha surrounded by tree roots, is also popular.  hmm.. are we sure about that second one?  Read on to find out!

Chinese tourists crowd around to take photos of the Tomb Raider Crew from Canada

Ta Prohm abandoned after the fall of the Khmer Empire in the 15th century was re-disovered in the 1930s by Maurice Glaize.  He made the conscious decision to leave the temple consumed by trees which gives it a very ancient feeling.

The Entrance

Music at the entrance to the temple  played by victims of landmines
Giant tree roots or branches hang between trees
Moss has covered much of the temple under the canopy of the trees

Trees covering stones

The tree growing out of the temple
Look familiar?
Tree roots grow along the stones
Another tree with roots reaching over the temple wall
Giant roots
Another shot of the tree roots from Tomb Raider

The Inner Temple

Inside the temple
Between two walls
Ben poses with a makeshift sword
Colleen and Ben in the main courtyard
Detailed artwork adorn the temple walls
Emma pauses for a photo
Renovations continue! The lintel (or mantel) to the tower being rebuilt
Inside the temple. One long hallway
Beauty surrounded by devastation
At the front of the temple

Return Trip

We returned to Ta Prohm  on our second day after we realized that we had missed the Buddha encased in tree roots.  The Tuk-tuk driver knew what Colleen was talking about when she described the head.  He told us where it was at the front of the entrance.

We arrived, looked, and asked.  We got some blank looks but also some helpful information.

I am inside a tree
The figures were removed?
None shall pass!


After many twists and turns we found the Buddha in the tree.  Nope, this isn’t what we were expecting but it is the only one at Ta Prohm.  In fact, we think it is the only one like it in the Angkor complex.  I guess Tomb Raider had some creative license like they did with the river in front of Angkor Wat.


Stay tuned for our Day 2 adventures in the Angkor Complex

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