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Cambodia is a country steeped in rich history and architectural marvels, and Prasat Ta Keo is one of them. This temple mountain is located inside the Angkor archaeological complex, dating back to the time of the Khmer Empire. Despite its majestic structure, Prasat Ta Keo is an unfinished structure that signifies the Khmer dynasty’s transition from the 10th to the 11th century. Featuring a minimalist design, Ta Keo is one of the most significant monuments that take you back in time with its architecture and intricate designs. From its history to its significance, Prasat Ta Keo represents Angkor’s temple mountain concept, which intrigues visitors today.

About Prasat Ta Keo

Learn details about Prasat Ta Keo

Image Credit: Supanut Arunoprayote. for Wikimedia Commons

The Khmer dynasty is known for its archaeological and architectural significance, and places like Prasat Ta Keo directly represent the unique ‘temple mountain’ concept. Among all the different temples and monuments in the Angkor archaeological complex, the temple is believed to be one of the first temples in the complex, which was built entirely out of robust material.
The structure of the temple is built on top of a five-tiered pyramid base, each tier featuring smaller terraces. Five central towers, which signify Mount Meru, a leading Hindu God of the time, are also on top of the structure. As mentioned, Prasat Ta Keo Temple Cambodia is an unfinished structure. Construction started but abruptly came to a halt during Jayavarman V’s reign. Since then, the construction hasn’t been picked up again. So, when you compare the Prasat Ta Keo temple with the other Angkor Complex temples, the difference is quite stark and visible. At the present time, the unfinished beauty of Prasat Ta Keo contributes to the raw detailing and the beauty of the temple.

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Prasat Ta Keo History

The sculpture carved on the wall of Prasat Ta Keo

Image Credit: Adam Jones for Wikipedia
Often known as ‘The Crystal Tower’, Prasat Ta Keo’s history is mysterious. The temple’s existence and construction date back to the 11th century AD, when it was built east of Angkor Thom. If we look back in history, the initial construction of Prasat Ta Keo dates back to 975 AD under King Jayavarman V. He laid the foundation for the temple’s building, which was done to construct a temple mountain dedicated to Lord Shiva.
However, despite the initiation of the construction of the temple in Cambodia, the ruler’s untimely death stopped the construction, leaving it unfinished. Besides the typical architectural elements in the temple, what’s alluring about the temple are the inscriptions. They convey a story of the past; some inscriptions even depict that the temple was once most likely hit by lightning. Until the 13th century, the temple served as a place of worship. However, three centuries later, in the 16th century, the inhabitants and the people around abandoned and deserted the place for good. It wouldn’t be until the end of the 19th century that the temple was rediscovered and would be reinstated to its former glory for the tourists to witness and explore.

Prasat Ta Keo Architecture

The view of the south Gate of Prasat Ta keo

Image Credit: Chanrasmey Miech for Wikipedia

Following his father’s footsteps, King Jayavarman visualised and ordered the temple’s construction, which was similar to Pre Rup. The five pyramid structures have five sanctuary towers, each with a staircase-like appearance. Compared to all the Angkor temples, Ta Keo is the oldest and one of the largest constructed temples. Due to the temple’s half-unfinished structure, the walls have few carvings and decorations.
Built entirely out of sandstone, the temple features four entrance gates and a large room covering 20 sq.m. In the past, this room served as a shelter for visitors and travellers. Beyond the five levels, the top three layers are the most significant in the Prasat Ta Keo architecture. They add height to the structure and represent the significance of its archaeological importance dating back to the Khmer dynasty. On the topmost tier of the structure, there are five sanctuary towers. Each has doors that open in different directions. Despite their critical architectural significance, these towers aren’t accessible to tourists.

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Things to Do At Prasat Ta Keo

A solid plan helps you maximise your tour experience at Prasat Ta Keo, Cambodia.
Following are a few things to indulge in:

1. Explore The Pyramid

The Pyramid of Koh ker around the greenery

Image Credit: Peaceofangkor for Wikipedia Commons
The five-tiered pyramid base is the highlight of this temple complex, so when you visit the temple, that’s the first spot to add to your itinerary. Witnessing the temple’s unfinished beauty and Angkorian architecture’s influence is a pleasant experience. Each terrace in the temple offers a unique perspective, which adds to the place’s charm.

2. Climb The Central Tower

The magnificent Centrel tower of Prasat Ta Keo

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For those with a good sense of balance and a head for heights, a steep staircase leads to the top of the central tower. Although the climb is challenging, the views you get from the top are indeed one of a kind. The surrounding views of the Angkor complex and the dense forest and rich countryside around the area add to the experience.

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3. Click Snaps

The View of The Prasat Ta Keo

Image Credit: Diego Delso for Wikipedia
Ta Keo, with its simplistic design, offers amazing opportunities for photographers. Depending on the time of the day you visit, the change in the light and dark of the sun against the temple’s surfaces looks stunning. It creates a dramatic temple appearance, perfect for capturing captivating images.

4. Seek Hidden Details

The sculptures at The Angkor’s Ta Prohm

Image Credit: Photo Dharma for Wikimedia
The temple’s unfinished state hides hidden details, adding to its charm and allure. Remember to look into the subtle details the next time you visit, including the lotus bud-shaped finials on the towers. These depict that the temple was on its way to being decorated and spruced up, but things got cut short following the death of the Khmer king.

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Timings And Entry Fees

The Ariel View of Temple

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The temple is open from 07:30 AM to 05:30 PM. However, to beat the crowds, you must plan your visit either early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Since the unfinished temple is inside the Angkor Archaeological Complex, you’d need an Angkor Pass to explore the temple from the entrance to the pyramids. The pass is for one day, three days, or a week, starting from $37.

Best Time To Visit

The best time to visit the Prasat Ta Keo Is the during the daytime

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The best time to visit the temple is between November and March. The weather is relatively calm and pleasant, making exploring the temple’s surroundings easier without discomfort.
With clear skies, it’s easier for you to enjoy the views either during the early morning or late afternoon. The peace in the place is also best enjoyed during these months.

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How To Reach

Staircase to climb up at Prasat Ta Keo

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Like most Angkor temples, Prasat Ta Keo is within the Angkor Archaeological Park. It is quite close to the Angkor Thom temple. Depending on where you are in the archaeological complex, you can opt for local transportation mediums like tuk-tuk or renting a bicycle. You can even hire a taxi for a comfortable ride to the temple mountain.
Usually, tour guides are also available.

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Prasat Ta Keo is among the most underrated and overlooked gems in the Angkor Archaeological Complex. This imposing structure’s beauty lies in its unfinished beauty and the spiritual aspirations related to the Khmer dynasty. You get a glimpse into Cambodia’s rich heritage and the unsung history associated with the temple. A trip to Cambodia needs to include the unfinished beauty of Prasat Ta Keo.

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Cover Image Credit: Diego Delso for Wikipedia

Frequently Asked Questions About Prasat Ta Keo

Why was Prasat Ta Keo never completed?

The main reason the Ta Keo temple is incomplete is King Jayavarman V’s death. However, legends depict that a lightning bolt hit the temple, causing its unfinished construction.

When was Prasat Ta Keo built?

Prasat Ta Keo was constructed in the 10th century, during the reign of King Jayavarman V.

How high is Prasat Ta Keo?

The temple is roughly 39 feet high, or around 12 metres. The five-tiered pyramid accounts for most of its height.

How to get to Prasat Ta Keo?

Reaching Prasat Ta Keo requires proper planning since the Angkor archaeological complex is extensive. It is the closest to Angkor Thom, so you can explore those two places together.

How much does it cost to enter Prasat Ta Keo?

There is no separate entrance fee for the temple. You need to buy a pass to explore the Angkor Archaeological Complex for a day, three days, or a week.

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