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Cambodia jungle-temples image gallery

Jungle temples is a name for those Khmer temples in Angkor and all over Cambodia not completely cleared from forests and particularly for those edifices with walls overgrown by giant trees. Often only the undergrowth has been removed, bushes and small trees. Large trees are sometimes grown together with the building structure in such a way that they cannot be sparated any more. Such "Temple Trees" are now themselves worthy of protection, but they are capped if indispensable to safeguard the building structure or for the protection of visitors.

Masonry strangled by roots in such a spectacular extent is a landmark of Cambodia. You will not find many works of art framed by rootage outside Cambodia, one rare exception is a head of a Buddha at Wat Mahathat in Ayyuthaya in Thailand.   


The image gallery below keeps record of impressive examples of "temple trees" in various temples in Angkor and in other Cambodian temple town. For a list of those imposing monuments amalgamated with wood, please only scroll down, you will see the temple names and locations just below the image gallery.

That text pays special attention to Cambodia's jungle temple par excellence, Ta Prohm in Angkor. We reveal for you the location of one more giant tree, besides those four trees shot again and again. That fifth temple tree rarely found by normal tourists is one more of our "secret places".

List of Cambodia's "jungle temples"

Angkor

Angkor is more than one jungle temple, it could be called a "jungle temple town". Nearly all Angkor monuments are situated in a forested area. The photo shows the Prasat on top of the small pyramid Baksei Chamkrong, seen from the northern access path to the natural hill Phnom Bakheng.

Angkor Thom Victory Gate

Most Angkor visitors only cross the Victory Gate in their vehicles when driving from Angkor Thom on the Small Circuit Road to jungle temple Ta Prohm. But you can climb the city walls and enjoy the view or take a photo of the colossal Buddha face framed by the trees.

Banteay Kdei in Angkor

Banteay Kdei is not as forested as the neighbouring Ta Prohm, since Banteay Kdei served as a Buddhist monastery for a much longer period. However, there is an amazing tree on the walls of the temple proper (second enclosure), the photo shows the central and western Prasat towers in the background.

Angkor jungle temple Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm is the most famous jungle temple of Cambodia, since its edifices are overgrown by numerous trees of impressive size. This perfect amalgamation of culture and nature is unique in the world. The photo shows the western side of the third enclosure belonging to the temple proper. To learn more about jungle temple Ta Prohm scoll down to a separate article at the bottom of this page or visit our Angkor jungle temples page.

The photo with a meditating monk shows a tree on the west side (northern half) of the third enclosure wall (exterior wall of the temple proper). When entering the temple compound from the west, you will find this tree after learning left in front of the temple proper.

A wooden platform for posing like on this photo was constructed for the visitors in the western court inside the third enclosure. You will not miss it when taking the normal path for visitors.

Inside the same third enclosure you can have a look at the southern wall of the second enclosure. This is a less frequented place, but even nicer for posing for a photo in front of a jungle temple tree.    
The children posing for this photo play inside the North Gate of Ta Prohm. Not many tourists visit this place, it is a quite charming forgotten part of Angkor's jungle temple.

This means the North Gate of Ta Prohm, though belonging to the famous jungle temple, is still off the beaten track. Here you can not only take a photo of a Buddhist face tower with impressive roots of a tree growing on that tree, but really enjoy the mystery of Angkor in tranquillity.

Don't miss to have a look into the rootage, it surrounds a Devata relief. Devata sculptures are often called Apsaras by touristes. This is the only place in Angkor where you can see a whole Apsara figure framed by living wood, but you will not easily recognize it on the photo.

Every Angkor tourist group takes photos of the Tetrameles tree growing on the east gate of the fourth enclosure. You will not miss it when walking from Ta Prohm's temple proper to the car park at the eastern entrance. But you have to be patient. Many tourists wait for an opportunity to take a photo in front of the roots.

Inside the third enclosure there is another Tetrameles on an edifice, you must walk to the north-eastern corner of this court to see the spectacular side as on the photo. On the other side of the same tree (along the main path for visitors) you can see some buttresses to prevent building and tree from collapsing.

For a photo of the back of Angkor's most famous strangler fig you have to climb to the top of the roofs. Be aware, many stones are shaky here.

The very same strangler fig you have seen in most Angkor picture books covers walls and roofs at different courtyards, this photo is taken in the second and not in the first enclosure.

In another courtyard of the second enclosure you can see more roots of the same tree framing the head of an Apsara. The main tourist path leads along this courtyard, so you can take this photo without too much effort.

However, it is the central first enclosure that has the most spectacular view of this Ta Prohm strangler fig. Here you will take a photo of a setting of the movie Tomb Raider 1.

Leaving the central court (first enclosure) westwards you arrive at one court of the second enclosure with Ta Prohm's most spectacular Tetrameles tree. Be aware, that busgroups frequent this place along the main path for their photos.

A smaller Tetrameles tree grows just on top of the northern part of the second enclosing wall. The photo is taken from the other side, from the western courtyard of the third enclosure.

The separating corridor between the central main temple and its southern satellite temple is crowded with trees. Many tourists miss this photo because walking around in the southern part of Ta Prohm is a little bit more strenuous.

Inside the court of the southern satellite temple, which belongs to Ta Prohm's third enclosure, you will find a Tetrameles root of recordbreaking diameter, but in a narrow space, so it is not easy to take a photo.

Strolling around in this area you will find many more photo opportunities. The best time for visiting Ta Prohm, in case you like to be undisturbed, is the very early morning. But sunshine will enlighten the roots not before 9 a.m.

However, the southern area remains a quiet place all day long, so you can not only take a photo here, but really enjoy the atmosphere of this most amazing jungle temple of the world, Ta Prohm.

The remote south side of the temple proper (third enclosure) is overgrown by several more impressive trees for photos of wood conquering stone.

Preah Palilay in Angkor

In the forest behind the Terrace of the Leper King at the main square of Angkor Thom, you will find Preah Palilay. Five trees grew on the slopes of the small pyramid, two on the north side, the photo shows those on the south side. They had to be capped, because the structure is unstable. However, sapplings already sprout again from the trunks.

Ta Som in Angkor

One of the most celebrated fairytale jungle temple trees grew on the eastern gate of Ta Som. However, it died decades ago, this means, it is not growing any more and starts to decay and will fall down (or has to be capped) in a not too far away future. So take your photo soon.

Preah Khan in Angkor

Preah Khan's temple proper is even larger than that of Ta Prohm, but has not as many jungle temple trees inside its courts. Don't miss to visit the northern sattelite temple (instead of only walking along the east-west axis), not only to take this photo, but to see some of the loveliest lintel carvings, too.

Have a look to the photo and see why this tree had to be capped in recent years. It would have collapsed and destroyed the edifice or even injured visitors otherwise. It was dangerously inclined to the east.

However, the most impressive jungle temple tree of Angkor is not at Ta Prohm, but at Preah Khan, and actually it is not one tree, but two that share their roots. One tree died, one is still alive. The roots became part of the pillars, now helping to bear the roof. This ensemble is simply breathtaking. You will find something like this nowhere else in the world outside Cambodia. You can take a photo with a lion guardian in front of the trees here.

Baphuon in Angkor

Admittedly, the Baphuon is an imposing pyramid, but not really a jungle temple. However, the photo proves there is a part of the enclosure wall surmounted by a tree. You will not miss it at the back of Baphuon when walking to the nearby Phimeanakas pyramid inside the compound of the Royal Palace.

Prasat Sampeau near Angkor

Prasat Sampeau is a rarely visited place in the vicinity of Angkor, hidden in a grove and overgrown b the thicket. Not much sunshine can reach this temple for your photo.

Prasat Sralao near Angkor

There is not much to see for a photo at Prasat Sralao west of Angkor. Some doorframes are the only remains of a former Mandapa hall.

Only one of erstwhile three Prasat towers is still (half) upright at Prasat Sralao. Its roof collapsed, this photo will tell you why.

Go to the back of the same temple tower to see the jungle's triumph over man's work for eternity. The photo is from the west, from where you will have a better access path than from the east.

Prasat Prey at Angkor

There are two "Prasat Preis" in Angkor, one is close to Preah Khan, the other one, sometimes spelt "Prasat Prey", is a few kilometres further west and very difficult to find. But the photo is from the remote one or, more precisely, from its collapsed entrance gate.

Banteay Thom at Angkor

Even farer away, but in the same direction, is your perfect jungle temple in case you expect this: very difficult to find, very difficult access pathes after rainfall, very difficult to forget the experience of discovering the unknown. The photo can not give an adequate impression of the magic atmosphere of this remote site. See and read more on our page "Angkor Secret Places".

Ta Nei in Angkor

For those who have no time or energy to explore the vicinity of Angkor, there is one comfort: There is an untouristed jungle temple right in the core of Angkor, too, just north of Ta Prohm. Okay, it's much smaller and its trees are less spectacular. But the advantage of the temple shown on this photo is: noisy busloads will never reach this site 1.5 km away from the paved road of the Small Circuit.

Phnom Bok at Angkor

Look at the photo. This jungle temple dream can come true, for you alone. But you have to climb 600 steps, because this temple is situated atop Angkor's highest hill. It is a few kilometres east of Banteay Samré. Phnom Bok does not see many visitors, but every visitor falls in love with it.

Chau Srei Vibol near Angkor

East of Angkor there is a huge compound called Chau Srei Vibol. A group of buildings in ruins is on top of a small natural hill. One tree cracked the northern enclosure wall, its roots on the north side of this wall can be seen on the photo.

The other photo shows the same tree, only from the inner side of the former temple courtyard. Another picturesque ruin is at the southern foot of the hill.

Beng Mealea

Tourists talking about the remote jungle temple outside Angkor usually mean Beng Mealea (Bang Melea). The complex is even more densely overgrown than Ta Prohm in Angkor, but single trees are not as imposing. Don't believe guidebooks or websites recommending this as an untouristed place. It was one some years ago. However, it is huge and amazing and really worth a visit. The photo shows only a very small part of the vast complex.

Beng Mealea has a wooden pedestrian walkway. But some areas can only be reached with some effort, for example this northeastern library building shown on the photo.

Preah Khan Kampong Svay

Did you know there are Buddhist face tower temples outside Angkor? There are even two, and both of them are huge, Banteay Chhmar in north-eastern Cambodia and Preah Khan in Preah Vihear Province (Prasat Bakan). The latter has the vastest temple compound of the world, 5 km diameter. The photo shows Prasat Preah Strung at the eastern entrance.

Some parts of the compound were cleared, but trees on walls, like that on the photo, will not be removed.

The core area of Preah Khan Kampong Svay will surprise you with one of the most picturesque jungle temple trees of Cambodia. Have a look at the photo, see, that's not a mere tree, that's an edifice.

Koh Ker

If there was no Angkor in Cambodia, every tourist would travel
to Koh Ker, but because of Angkor only very few visit Cambodia's No 2 temple town. Koh Ker can be called a whole jungle city. However, there is one temple in particular, Prasat Pram, that is the bid stuff of jungle temple. The first photo shows only one of two overgrown Prasats.

The true Koh Ker fairytale the Prasat in the north-west corner of the Prasat Pram complex. Maybe you forget this name Prasat Pram, but you will never forget this picture.

Sambor Prei Kuk

Last not least there is a Cambodian jungle temple town even older than Angkor. Its name is Sambor Prei Kuk. It is within only one hour driving distance from Kampong Thom, which is located halfway between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. Sambor Prei Kuk's classic temple complex is called South Group. The photo shows what was once the eastern gate to this temple compound.

Sambor Prei Kuk's largest temple complex is the North Group. The two unimaginably intriguing jungle temples of Sambor Prei Kuk belong to this temple group, but they are located not in the core area of this group, but further north, on the opposite side of the access road. Don't worry, you will not miss the temple shown on this photo, it is visible from the road just before you arrive at the main car park.

The name of this single Prasat is Prasat Chrey. The second photo shows the south-eastern corner of the very same temple.

Many tourists miss the second impressive jungle temple tree only 1 km further north, but really hidden in the jungle, though easily to reach by a jungle path. The first photo shows the eastern entrance of Prasat Luong Chom Bok.

You can see the north-west corner of this second phantasy movie temple of Sambor Prei Kuk on the second photo of Prasat Luong Chom Bok.

Outside Cambodia

Maya temple towns in Guatemala and Mexico are situated much deeper in the jungles than Angkor in Cambodia. But you will not find such impressive trees growing on works of art anywhere else outside Cambodia. There is one exception from that rule. After the fall of Angkor, Ayyuthaya (Ayuthiya) in Thailand became the new dominating city of Southeast Asia. By the way, Ayyuthaya became the heir of Angkor in many respects. Beyond doubt, it is an impressive temple town, too, but not at all in a jungle. However, in Ayyuthaya's temple Wat Mahathat you can take a photo of that kind nearly everyone expects to be from Cambodia. Admittedly, the tree of that Wat Mahathat is unbelievable photogenic and simply great, and Thailand is great, too. So why not combine Ayyuthaya with visiting us in Siem Reap?


Angkor jungle temple Ta Prohm, south-west courtyard of second enclosure

Angkor's "jungle temple" Ta Prohm

Ta Prohm, located three kilometres north-west of the Angkor Wat, is simply called "the jungletemple". Early French archaeologists intentionally left it partially unrestored. Strangle figs (Ficus tinctoria) and even huger Thitpok trees (Tetrameles nudiflora, known as Sompong in Thai and Spong in Khmer) still grow from the towers and halls spreading their gigantic roots over intricately carved stone. The most amazing four of Ta Prohm's stone-cracking trees became icons of excellent architecture overcome by the force of living wood. This massive combination of art and vegetation is of a dimension unique in the world.


The exterior walls of the whole compound of Ta Prohm are counted as fifth enclosure. The ancient main entrance is the Gopuram in the east, most visitors enter Ta Prohm from the west. A strangler fig surmounts the northern gate, which is rarely visited.

A Thitpok tree (called Sompong in Thailand) grows at the north-west angle of the cruciform East Gopuram of the fourth enclosure. It is located in front of the hall of dancers, which is under restoration currently (2014). You will not miss this imposing tree, as you will have to join a queue of tourists waiting for being photographed posing in front of the tree. The species is often called "silk cotton tree" in guidebooks, but silk cotton tree is a name for Kapok trees (Ceiba pentandra), they are cultivated in tropical Asia, particularly on Java, but were not native plant species in Asian primeval forests, they are from tropical America. Silk cotton trees can be found in Maya temple cities, they were even regarded as holy trees in Mesoamerican cultures, but they do not grow in Khmer temples.  

Behind the hall of dancers, when entering the third enclosure, you will see a broken roof with another tree's massive trunks tightly round the remaining walls. Walk around to the other side of this former vestibule and see a whole veil of smaller trunks covering the north entrace.

Entering the the second enclosure you will walk through a dark corridor. A small court is on the lefthand side. Have a look at the roots of a strangle fig on the opposite wall in this court. You will recognize the face of an Apsara completely framed by roots. The most impressive view to the very same strangle fig is from the inner courtyard, counted as first enclosure. Here, the roots frame a whole door. It was the setting of a spectacular scene in the first Tomb Raider movie.

When leaving the inner enclosure to the west, there is the most imposing Thitpok tree on top of the gallery of the second enclosure. This narrow courtyard is the one slightly south to the east-west axis. From the southeastern angle of this courtyard you can take a perfect picture with an Apsara in the foreground and the trunks spreading along the gallery roof and its pillars. But do not expect to take a "lost city in the jungle" picture quickly, there will be tourists posing under that tree all day long.

More jungle trees surmount the area to the south of the central complex. It is in ruins. But in this smaller southern complex also look for a splendid work of art. One pediment carving depicts Buddha on a horse, this is the scene of Prince Siddharta's "Great Departure" from his royal palace in order to become a hermit. When he also left his horse Kantaka, the animal died from sorrow and grief.

Walking around in this endless labyrinth of towers, courts and corridors, you will understand: Ta Prohm was a monastery of enormous dimensions. The exterior (fifth) enclosure wall encompasses a compound of 65 hectare. That's the size of whole major cities in contemporary Western Europe. According to a temple inscription 12,640 people lived in the temple compound. Certainly thousands of them were monks, but most of them were laymen as supporters, including 615 female dancers. The monastery was wealthy, as it had vast stores of silks, pearls, jewels and gold and was in charge of farmland of 3400 villages.

Ta Prohm was one of record-builder Jayavarman VII's first major temple projects, only the neighbouring Banteay Kdei is a few years older. The monastery was dedicated to the king's mother, who was identified with the Buddhist female personification of pure wisdom called Prajnaparamita. The even larger Preah Khan, built shortly after Ta Prohm, correspondingly was dedicated to his father identified with saviour Lokeshvara. The northern and southern side temples in Ta Prohm's third enclosure were dedicated to the king's teacher and his elder brother respectively.

260 Hindu deities were worshipped in Ta Prohm, too. They were probably represented by movable statues called Utsavamurtis. Many stone carvings of this Buddhist sanctuary depict topics from Hindu mythology.

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