Ta Prom Tonle Bati; a very attractive, but rarely-visited Angkor-period temple a mere hour’s drive south of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh. (Well traffic permitting that is.) Ta Prom is differentiated from it’s better-known namesake at Angkor, (of giant roots and Lara Croft fame) by the addition of ‘Tonle Bati’ – a scenic freshwater lake adjacent to the ruined temple.
This Ta Prom, in Takeo Province, dates also from the reign of that renowned, atmospheric, jungle-covered ruin king Jayavarman VII but is a well ordered, neatly laid out, medium-sized site surrounded by tended gardens so don’t expect giant trees here. It is in relatively good condition though and there are some excellent carvings to be seen.
Or this one below which follows the Bayon or Banteay Chmar trend of depicting historical and everyday, rather than purely mythological, religious themes.
Not 100% sure what’s going on but the fan (or fly whisk) bearers preceding and the parasol porters following the chariot shows the, rather nuclear looking, family of passengers is royal or at least of VIP status. What looks remarkably like mum, dad, the 2 kids and pet elephant may even represent Jayavarman himself – possibly out for an afternoon drive with the family? The above 2 carvings are placed on the ground near the entrance to the temple which as we said is kept in immaculate condition by a pack of resident old crones and their presumably hubby gardeners.
Funnily enough, we turned up at Ta Prom Tonle Bati with Fin, a Khmer mate who’s a guide at Angkor and who after 5 minutes of old dears trying to sell incense sticks and kids wanting $1 for whatever knick-knacks they happened to be selling, declared he couldn’t stand it and had to leave!? Yes, they were persistent and being at a little-visited site unaware of the whole guide and tourist system but as we pointed out to Fin this is what us regular tourists have to face during their visits to most of the temple sites but which he would usually be unaffected by. Ha! So he went and sat in the nearest cafe and I fended off the temple guardians on my own.
So outer and inner enclosure walls; – 4 inner gopuras and 2 ‘libraries’ all in laterite and a highly decorated sandstone central shrine and ante-room. Great little temple and comes complete with un-defaced Buddha images that so many of that Buddhist king’s temples lost during the later Hindu fundamentalist backlash.
The nearby lake has plenty of places to grab a drink and a nibble. Easy to combine Ta Prom with say Phnom Chisor and/or Prasart Neang Khmau – 2 other nearby temple sites – or perhaps the excellent Phnom Tamao Wildlife Rehabilitation centre to make for a very interesting and untouristy day out from Phnom Penh.