Ta Prohm’s original name was Rajavihara, meaning “monastery of the King”. It was built as a Mahayana Buddhist monastery and university. The construction of the temple is dated to 1186AD, but it is generally considered to have been added to and embellished over a period of several years. As Maurice Glaize comments in his appraisal of the temple, “While for some time all 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.”

Jayavarman VII dedicated Ta Prohm to his family, as evidence by the inscriptions on the stele. The inscription lists many of Jayavarman’s ancestors, as well as giving details of the construction enterprise on the site. Perhaps most compelling though is the information the stele gives about the people whose lives revolved around this site. Nearly 80,000 people were involved in serving the temple, coming from over 3,000 surrounding villages. The stele also mentions that there were 102 functioning hospitals in the Kingdom. Numbers like this give a fantastic insight into the sheer scale of the Khmer empire at that time.

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