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Step into the mysterious Ta Nei Temple which is located in Siem Reap province of Cambodia and experience an unforgettable journey. Started in the last part of the twelfth century, Ta Nei Temple is one of the finest examples of ancient Angkor architecture and artistry. Every time you touch the worn-out engravings on the walls and pass through the numerous carved arches you can almost sense that you are exploring a city that has been hidden away for a long time. Each corner of Ta Nei reveals new details: bas-reliefs depicting historical tales, hidden shrines, and corridors that whisper the stories of a bygone era.

Ta Nei Temple History

Ruins of Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia.

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Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia is a fine example of ancient architecture. It is located in Angkor, Cambodia, and its construction was initiated at the end of the 12th century, during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The temple is also devoted to the Buddha deity and is situated in the left direction to the north of the East Baray, a sacred pond. Unlike other temples in the Angkor complex, Ta Nei has not been extensively restored, giving it a somewhat overgrown and mystical appearance. It is surrounded by dense jungle, which adds to its secluded and tranquil ambience.

Ta Nei Temple is much less explored. It was constructed in the late twelfth or early thirteenth century, when the region of Angkor was famous for its cultural and architectural achievements. From the temple’s name and dedication to the Buddha, one can understand that it was probably a place of worship and meditation for Buddhists.

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Ta Nei Temple Architecture

 Stone carving of a female goddess

Image Credit: Jakub Hałun for Wikimedia Commons

Ta Nei Temple, located North of Angkor Thom, is a Buddhist temple constructed later in the 12th century by the then ruler Jayavarman VII. It is characteristic of the Bayon style of architecture that became popular in the Khmer Empire. The temple was also made from sandstone, and it is decorated with elaborate carvings and sculptures on the walls and doors of the structure. The temple doors show scenes from the Hindu pantheon and the tales narrated in Buddhism. Even though Ta Nei is relatively small, it possesses a crucial sanctuary with a large figure of the Buddha and a series of galleries and corridors.

However, owing to its relatively smaller size compared to some of the more opulent Angkorian temples, the décor is kept simple with little carving, unlike many Khmer temples. The temple is a perfect fusion of classic Khmer and Buddhist architectural styles. Notable features include a stone door with carving, a water well, and stone stairs at the entrance. Altogether, Ta Nei provides visitors with a new type of experience of the Bayon style of art, which is rough but still exquisite.

Ta Nei Temple Timings

 Intricate pediment showcasing ancient Khmer craftsmanship at Ta Nei Temple.

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The Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia is open from 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The park is open from 5:30 AM to 5:30 PM. The temple is closed during the hottest part of the day, usually between 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM. Visitors are advised to plan their visit accordingly to avoid the midday heat. Early morning and late afternoon are the best times to explore the temple and enjoy the surrounding scenery. Ta Nei Temple timings may vary depending on weather conditions and maintenance schedules, so check and confirm before you visit the temple.

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Ta Nei Temple Facts

Ta Nei Temple is surrounded by the captivating beauty of the Cambodian jungle.

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Though the Ta Nei Temple is not as famous as the horizontal Mahendraparvata, the Angkor Wat, or the mysterious Ta Prohm temple, this nondescript sandstone edifice has its own charm. Compared to some other Angkorian counterparts, Ta Nei may be relatively small, but it is most definitely an absolute gem for anyone who enjoys being lost in the dense, tropical vegetation where it can truly maintain its centuries-long slumber.

There are very few inscriptions regarding the original builders and the building’s use, but monks may have used this Buddhist temple as a monastic retreat. Due to the scouts, it is situated in a very secluded area with only limited restoration works and thus has the atmosphere of a hidden temple overgrown by the jungle. The intricate geometric and Buddhist motifs on the structure’s facade are partially covered by vines. For those who dare to approach it, this small and hidden temple will give visitors an appreciation of what the ancient Khmer empire was like spiritually.

Ta Nei Temple: Nearby Attractions

The attractions mentioned below provide a rich exploration of the Angkor Archaeological Park, offering a mix of grand temples, serene waterfalls, and unique historical ponds. Visitors to Ta Nei can easily incorporate these sites into their itinerary for a comprehensive Angkor experience.

1. Ta Keo

Ta Keo in Cambodia is a must-visit attraction.

Image Credit: Supanut Arunoprayote. for Wikimedia Commons

This is perhaps one of the biggest temples built during the Khmer Empire. History experts say Ta Keo was built about a hundred years before Wat Angkor. It was constructed as the state temple for Jayavarman V, who began the construction in 975 AD. The temple is quite popular among visitors because of its massive five-tiered pyramid structure, steep stairways, and panoramic views from the top.

Suggested Read: Temples In Cambodia

2. Thommanon

 Thommanon is a UNESCO World Heritage Site near Ta Nei Temple.

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Built during the rule of Suryavarman II, Thommanon is a tiny Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Vishnu. The temple is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and is said to have been constructed during the middle of the 12th century. Ornate details and high-quality craftsmanship are the main characteristics of this temple, making it one of the most preferred tourist attractions near Ta Nei Temple in Cambodia. Female devata carved on the temple’s outer walls, pilasters, and incredible sculptures depicting Hindu mythology scenes are also worth seeing.

3. Neak Pean

Central pond of Neak Pean

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Neak Pean, also known as Neak Poun, is a small yet enchanting temple surrounded by five ponds, believed to be consecrated to Buddha to celebrate the attainment of Nirvana. Located on a man-made island, this mystical temple offers visitors a serene ambience to enjoy spiritual bliss. Each of the five ponds represents one of the four great rivers of ancient India—Ganges, Yamuna, Sarasvati, and Indus—along with the mythical Lake Anavatapta, believed to possess miraculous healing properties.

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How To Reach Ta Nei Temple

How to reach Ta Tei Temple

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Ta Nei Temple is located in the jungles of Siem Reap, and reaching there is a little adventurous. The most accessible way is taking a tuk-tuk, or better still, riding a bike from Siem Reap to the Ta Keo Temple. Starting from the eastern side of Ta Keo is a forest trail, which splits into two- take the one to the north until you get to Ta Nei’s courtyard. For the daring, the trail starts 200 metres west of the EAST BARAY reservoir, a thirty-minute hike through the forest to the temple. Regardless of which way you go, a map and/or compass cannot be overemphasized in locating this remote attraction in the northwest of East Baray.

It is advisable to seek services from an experienced local guide, especially when trekking since the paths are overgrown and hard to decipher. Even though its path required some effort, visiting Ta Nei, with its centuries-old Khmer atmosphere, turned into an exciting journey.

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Ta Nei Temple is one of the best and most attractive places, with the rich green jungles of Siem Reap in Cambodia. With hardly any visitors and its complex design that enshrines spirituality, this is the perfect place to understand the Khmer Empire’s architectural ingenuity. Whether you are interested in history or you are just travelling, visiting Ta Nei Temple is like stepping back in time. The next time you plan your trip to Cambodia, ensure that this off-the-beaten-track location is on your checklist for an amazing experience in the spiritual majesty of Angkor.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Ta Nei Temple

How easily accessible is Ta Nei Temple for visitors with less mobility?

The temple grounds are rather bulky and there is a tendency for steep slopes and overgrown by jungles.

Are there any Buddhist activities or celebrations done at Ta Nei?

Though the temple is not an active monastery anymore, the local Buddhists may conduct small meetings and puja at the place.

How long should I spend going around and discovering everything about Ta Nei Temple?

It’s advised to allocate at least 1 to 2 hours to observe the peculiarities and devote time to the jungle surrounding the temple.

Are there any particular sculptures and artworks of Buddhism on display at the site?

Yes, Ta Nei poses some Bayon-style Buddha carvings and friezes in rather good condition that are worth a closer look.

What is the entrance fee to Ta Nei Temple?

There is no entrance fee for Ta Nei temple, as it is included in the ticket price for the Angkor Archaeological Park.

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