Money Is Obstacle to Saving Crumbling Ta Prohm Temple

siem reap province – Security guards at the eerily beautiful Ta Prohm temple sadly recounted Sat­urday how a section of the 12th-century temple collapsed re­cently, a casualty of old age and the destructive power of tree roots that embrace the temple’s crumbling walls.

“I’m worrying how long this old temple is going to stay with us,” said Phin Tra, 25, who as a child lived nearby and often visited Ta Prohm.

A 4-meter section of the roof col­lapsed May 15. No one was in­jured, though tourists often clamber through the temple’s dark passageways. The roof section fell in a section of the temple closed to tourists and marked with a sign reading “No Entry.”

There are 30 such signs at the temple. A similar collapse oc­curred last June, officials said.

Bun Narith, director general for the Apsara Authority, said the authority is planning to fix portions of Ta Prohm that are seriously decayed. The authority and the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, have also considered removing the trees. But Toun Phouk, Angkor conservation official for Siem Reap province, said there is no money. “We can’t get anything done without money,” he said.

The temple, built about 1186, was dedicated to Jayavarman VII’s mother.

Guard Nam Neoun, 55, said the temple has 20 to 30 guards, though not enough to stop tour­ists if they pick at the crumbling rocks to take souvenirs.

Nam Neoun said the temple is already in poorer condition than when he began working there only three years ago. “When I came here the first time, I saw a tree root as small as an incense stick, but now the root is larger than a human hand,” he said.


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