Our next stop after Angkor Thom was the temple made popular by Angelina Jolie’s Lara Croft.
Just stepping into Ta Prohm‘s borders was like stepping into a bygone era, a world far away from reality. Left in the hands of nature’s elements, unprotected and decaying, the jungle has quite literally taken over this temple. The gigantic trees are hundreds of years old with massive overgrown roots intertwining with each other like giant snakes, sprouting wherever space permits.
That so much beauty could be had in ruins. The grey and black stones became one with the greens and yellows of the thick foliage creating a haunting canvas. Shadows in the setting sun of the late afternoon danced around adding to the mystique of the place. I chose a quiet corner to observe and admire the dramatic collapse around me. The peace and quiet within the ruins got me wondering about the glory that once must have been. Did the historians do the right thing leaving the temple in a state of neglect? Maybe yes. For the tranquility in the crumbling temple complex under the balmy sun gave me one of my most treasured memories. Undoubtedly, Ta Prohm was my number one temple.
Ta Prohm is a maze of pillars and corridors, and I did lose my way for a while. Not that I was really complaining: I could have spent a whole day doing just that. But we had to move on to the next temple as sunset was approaching fast and this temple, Phnom Bakheng, was quite popular for its sunset view as it is on a mountain top.
The way to Phnom Bakheng is through a path meandering through a jungle. It is a good 20-25 minute walk and has some defined points on way for a beautiful view of the city. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pics of the place as my phone had died earlier. We did use our guide’s century old camera to click a few pics but sadly I will never see those pics again.
Phnom Bakheng is a Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and has an idol of Nandi bull at the entrance. The view from the top is breathtaking. It gives a spectacular view of Angkor Wat from one end. It also gave me a view of one of the clearest and widest horizons I have ever seen. Not exaggerating but I could actually see the curvature of earth from up there! As time passed, the buzz amongst the visitors started growing in anticipation of the impending sunset. Cameras readied, people waited for the perfect shot of the setting sun.
Sun descends. Shutters click. Looking around, I see hundreds of visitors waiting for that one final look at the life sustaining element, a ritual probably performed daily at this place of worship. Isn’t this similar to monks offering their prayers daily to the Sun God, centuries ago? Isn’t this our very own modern way of Sun worship?
Sun sets, cameras shut and we make our way back to the tuk-tuk thus ending our very own Temple Run of Day 1, much exciting and much satisfying.
All I wished for now was a relaxing evening and a good sound sleep.
More from my trip:
Cambodia diaries: Race to Siem Reap
Cambodia diaries: Temple Run in Angkor Thom
Cambodia diaries: Chilling in Pub Street
Cambodia diaries: Sunrise at Angkor Wat
Cambodia diaries: Bantaey Srei and Landmine museum
Cambodia diaries: Floating Village
Cambodia diaries: Phnom Penh
Cambodia diaries: Expenses and Itinerary