Whether you have half-a-day or a week in Angkor, you must visit Ta Prohm within the Angkor Thom quadrangle. Having been intentionally left in its natural state as that when uncovered, Ta Prohm is testament to the continuous struggle between man and nature. Originally built in the 12th century in rich Bayon-style by King Jayavarman VII as a monastery in honour of his mother, Ta Prohm was abandoned after the fall of the Khmer empire. With the passage of time, nature took over the once majestic Ta Prohm, replacing it with own version of beauty with a shroud of thick green moss, lichen and flowers, and overgrown silk cotton and fig trees clutching on to temple ramparts possessively with roots like tentacles pervading its stone walls.
Crushed stones are piled high in the temple courtyard as further evidence of the destroying power of nature. Restoration works to Ta Prohm, a UNESCO Heritage Site since 1992, have been largely limited towards ensuring safety and protection of the site and its ruins, leaving the appearance of neglect as part of its unique character.
Yet somehow as you walk under the shade of the trees down the dark corridors of broken pillars in Lara Croftesque style searching for carved faces on bas-reliefs amongst giant roots and ruins, the eerieness can be transformatively magical as you begin to see every aspect of Ta Prohm as a work of art with Nature as its painter.
Often described as picturesque and photogenic, Ta Prohm is a true tragic beauty where the merger of both nature and humanity has proven success.