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The Ta Prohm temple in Cambodia is also known as the Jungle Temple of Angkorwat. Constructed under King Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother Cult Buddhist, the temple has been entrusted to the Archaeological Survey of India for restoration work, which will be done in five phases. This paper presents details of a project that was aimed towards capturing ‘as-built’ data of the entire temple complex
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has been entrusted with the job of conservation of ancient temple of Ta Prohm in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The work will be done in five phases. The ASI team used latest technologies like 3D Laser Scanning survey for the reconstruction purpose. The project was carried out during December-January (2003-2004).
Cambodia: Land of Khmer Culture
Cambodia, also known in the past as Kampuchea, is located in mainland Southeast Asia, between Vietnam, Laos, Thailand, and the Gulf of Thailand. From 9th to the 15th century the Khmer Empire extended its sway far beyond the country’s boundaries. This period produced the glorious temple complex and the royal palace at Angkor.
The Khmer kingdom gradually declined. It accepted French protection in 1863 and was later incorporated into French Indochina. Cambodia became independent in 1953, but it was soon entangled in the Vietnam War. In April 1975, Cambodian Communists known as the Khmer Rouge took control of the country, which they renamed as ‘Democratic Kampuchea’, and instituted policies that led to the deaths of at least 1 million people.
The Khmer Rouge were driven out in 1979 by the Vietnamese army and Cambodian exiles. The Vietnamese-backed People’s Republic of Kampuchea (renamed State of Cambodia in 1989) was opposed by the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea in exile (renamed the National Government of Cambodia in 1990), made up of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge, which had the largest army, and two non-Communist factions. With US support this government in exile held Cambodia’s seat in the United Nations until 1990. Under a 1991 peace accord the four factions formed a UN-supervised interim coalition government from which the Khmer Rouge later withdrew. Multiparty elections were nevertheless held in May 1993.
Ta Prohm: The Jungle Temple
The Ta Prohm temple (Fig 1) is also known as the ‘Jungle Temple’ of Angkorwat. Constructed under King Jayavarman VII and dedicated to his mother Cult Buddhist. Ta Prohm is a Buddhist monastery typical of the last formula of the Khmer temples in which the ensemble – laid out on a single plane – which does not follow the principle of multiple levels.
Fig 1 Temple Map of Angkor area
Two successive walls, the outer of which measures 600 m by 1000m, enclose the overall site. The temple with its three concentric galleries, consisting of all the elements of a grand composition, has been crowded into a meager square of 100 metres each side, which is itself lost in a park of 60 hectares. It is believed that there were 12,640 people living within the interior of the enclosure – including 18 high priests; 2,740 officiates; 2,232 assistants and 615 dancers.
While for some time the various temples in the style of the Bayon were attributed to a single king Jayavarman VII, during his twenty or so years reign, today it seems more likely that he could not, in such a short time, have done more than just transform, extend or complete already existing religious establishments with his mark.